WTIC Works on 2012 Legislative Budget Session
The 2012 Wyoming legislative session opened Feb. 13 and the focus is on the state’s 2012-13 biennium budget. WTIC’s priority is to keep the Wyoming Office of Tourism’s standard budget, and exception requests intact, as recommended by the Joint Appropriations Committee.
Gov. Matt Mead’s budget included pretty much everything requested by WOT, including new one-time money for startup advertising in a new market, Seattle. After much deliberation, the JAC remained consistent in their approach to halt the growth of state agencies, and cut that part of WOT’s budget. WOT’s standard budget, and the remainder of exception funding that they requested remains intact thus far.
One of WTIC’s fears was, that in tight economic times the WOT budget could be cut. The state seems flush with money but natural gas prices continue to plummet, signaling the possibility of significantly less revenue in the coming two years. The JAC gave this serious consideration while carefully reviewing each agency budget.
WTIC’s Lynn Birleffi and Chris Brown hit the road late last year, visiting with legislators across the state. Most assured them they were tourism supporters and would fight against cuts in the coming budget session. Lynn and Chris will be monitoring the floor closely in case the threat of further cuts arises.
Funding for the state’s highways is another WTIC priority, and is especially critical given federal budget cutbacks. The WTIC lobbying team will keep an eye on the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation budget as it winds its way through the session. Currently the Governor and the Appropriations Committee have added to WYDoT’s budget in order to maintain the state’s highways.
Funding for the Wildlife Trust Fund is another WTIC priority, and it has already been cut by $6 million by the JAC according to WTF Director Bob Budd. The WTIC lobbying team will attempt to help get that money restored as well.
The Dept. of State Parks and Cultural Resources budget includes a $1.1 million request for extra money for an Electronic Records study, which has been approved by the JAC. Another department request is for authorization to take over the LX Bar ranch in Northeast Wyoming and some money to stabilize the historic ranch but not operate it.
While Governor Mead’s “State of the State” clearly articulated the enviable position Wyoming is in financially vs. other states, he did caution the audience that further budget cuts may loom because the price of natural gas—a major driver of state government revenue—is predicted to continue to fall.
We will bring you updates throughout the budget session as usual, and for immediate updates you can visit the WTIC website at www.wyotravel.org or sign on to the Facebook page of our sister organization, the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyoming-Lodging-and-Restaurant-Association/175651975816771.
Keeping up with the session and contacting your legislators;
The state legislative services office offers an array of options for residents from across the state to follow all of the committee meetings and discussions on the floors of the House and Senate.
Click here for a list of all legislators’ emails, which is their preferred method of contact.
You can also contact a legislator directly during the session by calling the Senate receptionist at 307-777-7711 or the House receptionist at 307-777-7852.
You can also comment on bills online by visiting http://legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/onlinehotline.aspx .
You can also can log on to http://legisweb.state.wy.us to check on committee schedules, view bills, listen to live broadcasts of the legislative session or find out how individual legislators vote.