Lander's Larsen praises fellow lawmakers for focus on Budget

*Feature Photo: State Representative Lloyd Larsen of Lander * (Cheyenne, Wyo.) - Wyoming State Representative Lloyd Larsen of Lander had praise for his fellow lawmakers this month, saying they have mostly focused on the intent of the 20-day session, the Biennial Budget. "The number of bills introduced at the start of the session was huge (279)," he said. "A lot of non-budget bills never made it to the floor and of those that did, half of them died there. We are focusing on the essential needs of the state and are distributing the reductions across all agencies." One sacred cow that the legislature addressed this session was Education funding. "I feel very strongly about the need to fund education, I'm passionate about it, but the Education Department has never had to take a reduction before," he said. "It was time. My concern is that we take care of kids while being efficient. If we didn't make the reductions this year, in six year's we'd be on a crash course with our foundation model upside down, and I don't want that." Larsen noted that school districts are concerned with the drop in the economy and loss of students in the classroom for the Average Daily Membership numbers, but continuing the model in its present form is not warranted by reality. "K-12 needs to share in the pain a bit." Each house has now passed its version of the budget bill and the work of the conference committee is underway to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions. As for the budget item for cities, towns and counties, the original allocation of $125 million was trimmed back to $90 million, but then a late budget amendment brought the total back up to $105 million. "I think we'll direct those funds to the counties and not put them in the consensus funding," Larsen said. The good news the Lander Republican reported was that capital construction funding for new facilities at the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander and the Wyoming State Hospital in Riverton, plus the new Animal Science Center at Central Wyoming College were not touched. "The appropriations came out of the Senate and they are moving forward," he said. #county10 #news