Wyoming lawmakers are working on competing proposals to address a projected $300 million shortfall in K-12 education funding over the next two years — and are looking to solutions for a longer-term deficit in school funding.
The state’s rainy day fund of about $1.3 billion is available to cover the short-term shortfall. But House legislators are working on a bill that would phase in cuts of about $68 million over the next three years, and a Senate proposal would cut $130 million from the school finance model, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.
Lawmakers are working on a solution with two weeks left in the legislative session.
House lawmakers also are discussing a proposal to raise the state sales tax from 4% to 5% once the state’s primary savings account falls below $650 million. The rainy-day fund could reach that threshold as soon as the 2023-24 biennium, legislative staff estimate.
Many senators want to explore other possible cuts before supporting tax increases. One proposal includes increasing class sizes.
The House bill is set for a final reading this week, with several amendments possible. Lawmakers will likely use that legislation to bridge the difference between the two chambers, according to Senate Education Committee chair Charles Scott of Casper.
The House Education Committee rejected another bill that would have consolidated school districts to save money.