March 25, 2021
Education funding is one of the most significant topics during the 2021 legislative session. With a $300 million structural deficit, the discussion has focused largely on proposed cuts to education—the subject of much debate since the last interim.
The numerous iterations and proposals to solve the education funding deficit began with House Bill 61, the School Finance and Recalibration bill. Since the bill’s introduction, a variety of amendments have been proposed, many of which were arbitrary and capricious reductions to education funding. As of today, the functional bill that has moved out of the house is House Bill 173.
While reductions are difficult to support in any form, the bill is a product of compromise and forward thinking and helps to resolve the long term education funding problem while the state hopefully works to provide more stability to the economy and the states tax structure. However, there is a disheartening realization that the Senate will more than likely destroy the working nature of the bill and WEA will have to continue to work in opposition.
The Wyoming Education Association recognizes that there is a substantial need for a statewide campaign focused on informing our membership and the public about the importance of revenue and the services those revenue streams provide.
Aside from major funding issues, WEA has had to address a variety of other bills including charter school bills, gun bills that would remove gun free zones at schools, a variety of tax bills that would implement substantial roadblocks to revenue generation through taxation, and school consolidation bills. The Wyoming Education Association has also worked with the Healthy Wyoming Coalition to provide support to the Medicaid Expansion efforts.
WEA has conducted our work remotely this session and has seen drawbacks as well as benefits to the virtual participation. Our hopes are that the legislature continues to utilize hybrid methods to increase the accessibility of citizens across the state to participate in the legislative process.
—Tate Mullen, WEA Government Relations Director