CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Senate voted on six amendments to the biennium budget bill before recessing for lunch on Friday, Feb. 21, taking a little less than an hour to decide on them.
Friday saw the third reading of the SF 1, which covers the biennium beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2022. The budget has been the major topic of discussion in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, with the latter taking almost the entire day to finish the second reading on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
On Friday, 37 amendments were slated for discussion, down seven from earlier in the week.
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Almost all of the amendments voted on Friday morning were passed, five in total of the six that were discussed.
These included an amendment sponsored by Sen. Eli Bebout, which cut $500,000 from the Department of Administration and Information’s budget. The budget cut stems from the lease on the department’s building; another was an amendment sponsored by Sen. Stephen Pappas in regards to the Wyoming Military Department’s budget for the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery.
The House is also working on a budget bill and passed a similar amendment.
“This basically shifts $190,000 from the other funds account to general funds,” Pappas said during his explanation of the amendment. “That money was coming out of the veterans’ trust fund to pay for a veteran cemetery director’s position and that wasn’t what the fund was established for.”
In the House, it was explained that the $190,000 would have come from an account which collects donations, burial fees and interest at the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville.
Sen. Chris Rothfuss and Sen. Cale Case backed Pappas’ amendment, noting that there would be no trust between the families of veterans and the state if they “raided” the trust fund to pay for a director’s salary.
Sen. Wyatt Agar explained why the money was coming from that fund. His committee felt it was acceptable to pull from there. Nevertheless, he ended up voting to pass the amendment.
Funding outside of the general fund is money coming from special revenue, like enterprise or endowment funds. It is all subjected to legislative review.
On Wednesday, 21 amendments were adopted during the second reading, with 19 failing to pass, including one that called for the defunding of the Wyoming Business Council and another that slashed funding to the University of Wyoming’s Cowboy Joe Club.
Sen. Tara Nethercott withdrew her amendment that was on the docket for Friday during the morning floor session, with her fellow senators cheering in response.
Only Sen. Case’s amendment regarding endangered species failed to be adopted during the morning floor session.