Senate Kills Budget Amendment Giving More Money to Cities, Towns

By Chilton, James | Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY), February 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Senate Kills Budget Amendment Giving More Money to Cities, Towns


Chilton, James, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle (Cheyenne, WY)


Senate kills budget amendment giving more money to cities and towns This story was written on 2/17/2015.

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The Wyoming Senate on Tuesday considered a slew of amendments to its supplemental budget bill, Senate File 1, including a failed amendment that would have given $200 million to cities and towns over the next four years. The Senate will debate more amendments Thursday on third reading.

CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the state's supplemental budget that would have given $200 million more to cities, towns and counties.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, would have taken $100 million from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, commonly known as the rainy-day fund. It also would have taken $90 million in earnings from the state's Permanent Mineral Trust Fund and $10 million from spending on certain projects that is coming to an end.

Over the next four years, that money would have been directed to capital spending projects by cities, towns and counties, which Rothfuss argued was a better investment than where it's currently sitting.

"This is a way of directly investing in our communities," Rothfuss said. "All of us have heard from our communities that their high priority is these types of projects. It's what they need, it's what they want, and I would say we're the ones who deny those to them." Rothfuss said that while the Senate prides itself on building up its rainy-day funds, it has done so at the expense of local governments.

"We have precluded them from addressing their deferred maintenance, and we've done it so that we can build our chest for when we declare it's a rainy day," Rothfuss said. "A lot of them already feel that it's a rainy day." By continuing to hoard money into reserve accounts for the hypothetical rainy-day scenario, Rothfuss said the Legislature has allowed the continued deterioration of infrastructure in cities and towns across the state.

But while Rothfuss' intent was appreciated by some of his fellow senators, few agreed that his amendment was the right approach at the right time. "It's laudable; we'd like to help everybody as much as we can," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne. "But there are times you just have to say no. And this is one of them." Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, agreed that the Legislature is partly to blame for preventing cities and towns from building up their own reserves. …

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