Wyoming Gov. Urges Higher Taxes To Help Keep Schools Afloat

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Faced with a budget deficit that is clouding the future of Wyoming schools, Gov. Jim Geringer used his State of the State Address last week to call for imposing one new tax, raising another, and extending the life of a third.

Yet despite the state's serious fiscal problems, the second-term Republican urged legislators to avoid dwelling solely on the mounting costs of education in the state. Instead, he said, they should "focus on what the costs should yield, and then focus on accountability for the dollars spent."

"Education at all levels is my number-one priority," Mr. Geringer said in his Feb. 14 speech. "It is the key to Wyoming's mastery of the social, personal, and economic goals of the new millennium."

While many states are enjoying budget surpluses, Wyoming is among a small group struggling with a deficit. And education is driving that deficit, the governor said.

Mr. Geringer predicted that by 2002, the state would face a $200 million shortfall in its budget—which the governor has proposed increasing to $1.29 billion in fiscal 2001—if current spending and revenue trends continue.

To achieve economic growth, the state needs a higher percentage of families with school-age children, the governor said. Yet with schools spending an average of more than $7,500 per pupil, adding 10,000 students over the next decade would add $75 million a year to the state budget, he said.

"Looking at the forecast of education expenditures, the cost of education will continue to go up, particularly if we have the economic recovery that we want," he said.

To deal with the deficit, the governor prescribed a four-point plan that would, among other steps, "broaden the education tax base." To do that, Mr. Geringer proposed a sales tax on services as well as raising the gasoline and fuel tax by 8 cents a gallon. He also asked lawmakers to extend a 4 percent sales tax that is scheduled to expire in 2002.

Eric Curry, the governor's press secretary, said that Mr. Geringer had no plans for a tax earmarked solely for schools, but that education would be the primary beneficiary of any tax plan put in place. The governor called for continued funding of early-childhood programs, teacher-recruitment efforts, technology, and literacy, as well as increases in funding for higher education. He also urged lawmakers to increase the statewide property tax-which would raise $15 million over two years—to help finance capital construction and major maintenance of schools

Legal Battle Continues

Gov. Jim Geringer

During his speech, Mr. Geringer expressed frustration with the state's ongoing court battle over school funding, saying the issue had been "litigated ad nauseum."

Following a 1995 decision by the Wyoming Supreme Court declaring the state's K-12 funding method unconstitutional, lawmakers revised the formula in 1997.

Last month, a state court judge ruled that the system was largely constitutional, except for parts of it that provide extra money for small schools and districts. In his Jan. 19 decision, Judge Nicholas Kalokathis found that "equal access to an adequate education is substantially assured by the revised funding system."

Ray Hunkins, a lawyer who represents the state in the funding case, said the court has now upheld 17 of 21 legal issues regarding the formula.

The judge's decision will now be appealed to the state supreme court, which will also consider his earlier ruling that the state's funding formula for major school construction and maintenance projects is unconstitutional. ("Wyo. Finance Case Nearing Final Decision," Jan. 12, 2000.)

Referring to the recent rulings in his State of the State Address, Gov. Geringer said he hoped the high court would rule favorably on the issues the state is appealing. And he congratulated lawmakers for crafting a school funding formula that has generally held up well in the courts.

Vol. 19, Issue 24, Page 20

Published in Print: February 23, 2000, as Wyoming Gov. Urges Higher Taxes To Help Keep Schools Afloat
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >