Larsen working to include Tribal contracts in DFS inflation adjustment

Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, is working to ensure that Tribal contracts with the Department of Family Services also benefit from the $14.5 million budget adjustment Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon is proposing this year to accommodate the impacts of inflation.

“Wyoming is experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years,” Gordon wrote in a letter to the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee last month. “The latest analysis shows an overall inflation rate for Wyoming of 10.1 percent. For transportation, this was 16.4 percent, and for housing, it was 8.6 percent. …

“Sadly, we cannot ignore inflationary pressures and are thus compelled to adjust budgets accordingly.”

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The letter was accompanied by a list of state agencies that “have experienced budgetary pressures due to inflation” and “are in jeopardy of having a budget shortfall,” Gordon said.

‘A tweak’

As he reviewed Gordon’s agency list last month, Larsen asked state staffers whether there had been “any effort to reduce this inflationary impact on (the DFS) contract for the Tribes.”

“I didn’t see any,” he said. “I’m curious why we didn’t pass that along for the services – you know, similar services with the Tribes in (the) DFS budget.”

Wyoming Budget Department director Kevin Hibbard said his agency is “not resistant to that” idea, but that the “topic did not come up” in meetings with DFS about the inflation adjustment.

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“We did everything we could to try to lasso this entire thing,” Hibbard said. “But what we can do is get with (DFS) and see if there’s something that we need to rectify that.”

Later in December, Larsen said he had been in contact with DFS director Korin Schmidt about the Tribal contracts, and he plans to address the issue during legislative meetings this month.

“It’s a tweak,” he said. “It’s on the schedule in January to be rectified.”

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The Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 General Session begins Jan. 10.

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