Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter & Photographer 

Legislature faces finance issues

 


This week marks the opening session for this round of the 64th Wyoming State Legislature in Cheyenne and our Representative, Nathan Winters, gives us a little insight into some of the things that will be coming up over the next several weeks.

Winters said the legislature is looking at a number of issues regarding the finances for Wyoming.

“Thankfully,” Winters said, “after the last economic low in the 1990’s, the legislature made the decision to set aside money for the next fiscal downturn. We have just endured the fastest drop in the economy that our state has ever faced and we are feeling the effect in Hot Springs County.”

This session they will be spending extra effort on the subject of school funding. Winters said the state will be looking at a funding shortfall somewhere between $360 and $400 million dollars.

According to a recent report from the Legislative Service Office, mineral production and the taxes paid by energy producers, fund approximately 65% of the K-12 education operations for Wyoming’s schools.

Winters said the legislature will have many decisions to make on how to best face this drop in school funds.

As the new vice-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Winters is working diligently on Criminal Justice reform.

“Through the interim last year, we received hours of testimony from citizens, agencies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the Attorney General’s office on this important topic,” he said. “I am honored now with the new role on that committee and I will be doing a lot of the ‘on-the-ground’ work as these bills are ushered through the process.”

Along with his additional committee work, Winters is sponsoring a couple of bills on the floor as well.

“I am working to help young teachers and schools with a bill that provides more local control in contracting with new teachers,” he said. “I believe this is important for all parties as it gives the administrators and school boards more opportunity to help young teachers excel in their vocation.”

His second bill utilizes Article V of the U.S. Constitution to reassert the rights of states when the Federal Government overreaches as it has increasingly done over the past several decades.

If you would like to keep track of this session’s bills, both for the House and the Senate, please refer to legisweb.state.wy.us. From there you may view all the bills, session activities and legislator information.

 

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