State of the States
Governor and Legislature Differ on School Spending
In his Jan. 12 State of the State Address, Gov. Dave Freudenthal said that he and the legislature are in agreement on all but a few things—school employee compensation and the state’s education innovation fund among them.
Gov. Freudenthal, a Democrat, has proposed adding $103.5 million in education aid for fiscal 2006 to the two-year, $1.4 billion K-12 budget for fiscal years 2005 and 2006. But the legislature’s joint appropriations committee has recommended removing about $90 million from that plan, said his press secretary, Lara Azar.
About $45 million of the governor’s plan would go to raising the salaries of school employees, and another $45 million would fully finance the Wyoming Education Trust Fund, which was created to promote innovative teaching. The fund was intended to total about $50 million, but it has never been fully funded, Ms. Azar said.
Both items could be revived during the legislative session.
Gov. Freudenthal also referred to recent court rulings that have limited the use of state school construction dollars to building school-related facilities. “Our communities have been robbed of the historic practice of building community facilities with school construction dollars,” he said.
The first-term governor also said he would back the establishment of an endowment for higher education, particularly for efforts to create endowed chairs. He is urging that funds be set aside this year, but that the release of the money be handled by the legislature next year.
Vol. 24, Issue 20, Page 25