Lawmakers talk budget on Tuesday

Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:06 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - After a financial dry spell in Wyoming, Lawmakers say relief is on the way.

Thanks to the budget surplus, some of the hardest-hit sectors finally be restocked and the extra will be saved for the future.

With less than two weeks left in the Legislative session, we talked to lawmakers about budget and finance.

Lawmakers say that both bodies have passed the State Budget and that Wyoming finally has a surplus in this session.

The state had been in a deficit for over ten years, impacting education and health the most.

The permanent mineral trust fund and the endowment created in the 1960s have saved almost 10 billion dollars, and the common school account is a little under 5 billion.

These help provide about 30 percent of our revenue, according to lawmakers.

”Half of that $1.2B was put towards reserve accounts that we can access should the economy take a downturn. I don’t believe it will, but if it does, we’ll be ready for it,” said Sen. Mike Gierau, Senate Appropriations Committee- S.D. 17.

Lawmakers say they invested in increased provider payments to doctors and dentists and gave pay raises to state employees, K-12 employees, and University and Community colleges that have not had substantial raises in over ten years.

They also gave Pre-K Programs $4M, and K-12 received $70M, $100M to new schools and $300M to future school funding trusts.

”A lot of good that we’ve done for people in this state, and then we’ve saved for our children and grandchildren that’ll continue to provide revenue in perpetuity,” said Rep. Steve Harshman, Chair of the Hose Revenue Committee- H.D. 37.

The House Revenue Committee also discussed the Wyoming prescription drug transparency bill.

This bill affects Prescription Benefit Managers and allows individuals to choose in-network retail regulating the drug costs and benefits.

Critics say this bill does nothing to help rural or independent pharmacies and would increase premiums and drug costs.

”It probably improves things does it improve as much as some people want..No. Did it attempt to go farther in others..Ya. So I think we’re at a spot now where nobody is real happy, but we’ll keep working,” said Harshman

The bill passed out of committee with amendments and heads to the house floor.

The budget now heads towards the Governor’s desk, where he will have the final say and sign it into law or not.