House Bill regarding education deficits moves forward

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(Cheyenne, WY) – The Wyoming House of Representatives advanced legislation for House Bill 173 on Tuesday, which covers leveraging spending reductions, revenue diversions, federal stimulus funding and a potential half-percent sales tax for education if state monetary reserves reach critical level.

If passed at the Senate level, HB 173 would reduce spending by providing health benefits only to those enrolled with the intention of reducing K-12 funding by more than $80.5 million over the first three years, as well as redirecting revenue from existing sources, including severance taxes and investment income from state savings, providing up to $70 million annually.

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HB 173 would also allocate up to $243 million of the funding to K-12 Education over the next three years from the American Rescue Plan, which was approved by Congress this month.

Finally, HB 173 includes a half-penny sales tax that would be directed solely to our schools, which would be triggered only if the rainy day fund is drawn down to a $650 million balance. This provides an “insurance policy” so that the state will be able to appropriately fund education in the event that the rainy day fund approaches its statutory minimum balance of $500 million.

“The bill was thoroughly debated and amended to meet our education system’s needs. It was passed by the House with bipartisan support and an overwhelming majority, because it puts good policy ahead of politics,” said Majority Floor Leader Albert Sommers (R-HD20). Among the supporters of the bill were four Fremont County House District Reps, including Andi Clifford, Lloyd Larsen, Ember Oakley, and John Winter, with a fifth, Pepper Ottman, voting against.

HB 173 was passed by the Wyoming House of Representatives, 41-19. Thirty-eight amendments were proposed, including 23 in the third reading. It will now proceed to the Senate for consideration.

To learn more about House Bill 173 click here.

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