Budget Sent to Mead, $7.5M for Community Colleges

Budget Sent to Mead, $7.5M for Community Colleges

The two chambers of the Wyoming Legislature reached a compromise Monday to fund the state for the next two years, eventually sending a $3.22 billion budget to Governor Matt Mead for his signature.

Some in our area awaited a decision on community colleges after the House and Senate proposed different amounts for community colleges and the Department of Health. Following the disagreement schools got perhaps more than some legislators expected from amendments brought in the last couple weeks: an additional $7.5 million will be distributed based on enrollment increases among the seven colleges in the state.

The issue was mediated between health care and education, where the Senate instead allocated money for Development Disability waivers while the House suggested an initial $8.8 million to colleges. Co-Chair of the Joint Appropriations Committee Rosie Berger explains why in a year where no state departments or educational entities are seeing raises, community colleges will see one of about 4 percent for enrollment growth.

The other part of the compromise between the House and Senate was Developmental Disability waivers which will be $1.5 million of the budget, and will be matched by $1.5 million from the federal government for a total of $3 million. Berger said this was another area of importance to state legislators and the governor.

Local government funding will be $158 million for the two-year budget period that begins in July. Other funding included $585 million in a bill related to but separate from the budget bill itself which will go for new schools, major maintenance and renovations for districts across the state.

The University of Wyoming will be granted $30 million for its Engineering and Performing Arts buildings. While the university plans to rebuild the Engineering Building, it will decide whether to renovate or to build a new Performing Arts facility. Additionally, UW will have $10 million to begin renovations on the Arena Auditorium.

Look for plenty more from the legislature later this week.

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