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Wyoming governor’s budget would avoid cuts but use reserves

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By Mead Gruver ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A two-year state budget proposed Nov. 18 by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon would avoid further agency spending cuts for now but dip into a reserve fund to make ends meet amid declining revenue.

The $3.1 billion budget for 2021-2022 would also slash construction funding from amounts sought by state entities while leaving just a thin overall spending cushion for most of state government.

Gordon’s first budget since his election in 2018 invoked on its first page the Blizzard of 1949, which killed a dozen people in Wyoming, as an example of the state’s grit and perseverance amid hardship.

“It is a budget intended to prepare our state to meet the coming storm head-on,” the Republican governor wrote in a preface addressed to the Legislature. He warned that spending cuts for the upcoming biennium might be necessary.

Grim assessments of the state’s finances have become almost routine as Wyoming struggles with protracted declining revenue from coal and natural gas production.

The budget proposal shows that Wyoming sooner or later will need to consider new revenue to handle permanent economic changes, said Chris Merrill, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center state government watchdog group.

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