CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) – With inflation at the forefront of everyone’s concerns, educator retention and the cost of a quality education are quickly becoming central to long-term budget and revenue projections.
Wyoming’s joint committee on education held its meeting Tuesday morning, and community college funding, capital construction and future costs were discussed.
“We all know we need more funding to maintain the quality we have now. But no one is really willing to engage in the conversation about where that funding is coming from. The reality is we need to diversify our tax base, we need to become less dependent on coal, oil and gas for future revenues, and that means changes for our tax structure,” said Sen. Chris Rothfuss, District 9.
Even as lawmakers say state funding is secure with the current spike in energy prices, lawmakers are looking for ways to secure additional funds to offset rising inflation and, therefore, the increase in tuition fees.
Some suggestions included adjusting revenue structures through state taxes or creating tax factories.
But other lawmakers say the state is spending too much on construction projects.
“They’re very luxurious. We’ve spent since the Campbell decision and that probably doesn’t include spending in recent years. We’ve spent over $3.9 billion on school capital construction. I think we would have We were able to get away with less than half of that and worked perfectly fine. It became a hog barrel process,” said Sen. Charles Scott, District 30.
This committee meeting came after the state of Wyoming was sued by the Wyoming Education Association in mid-August alleging that schools are underfunded, resulting in poor quality education, buildings that are not up to code and high rates of teacher attrition. .
The WEA also asserts that these violate the Wyoming Constitution’s equal opportunity guarantee for the thorough and proper instruction of the state’s youth.
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