Wyoming House Rejects Senate Changes To Omnibus Education Bill
The Wyoming House of Representatives on Friday morning overwhelmingly voted down changes the Senate made to the Omnibus Education Funding Bill.
The vote against concurrence with House Bill 236 was 51-9.
A conference committee will now try to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, but with the legislature scheduled to wrap up the 2017 session today (March 3), it isn't clear whether a compromise can be hammered out and approved by both houses in time to meet that deadline.
Among the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill is a 0.5 percent sales tax in the House version that would go into effect when the state's "rainy day fund" is depleted to $500 million. That fund currently stands at about $1.6 billion and would be used to make up education funding shortfalls of around $380 million annually.
But the Senate removed the sales tax and included about $5 million more in cuts to school funding in its' version of the bill. If the two houses are not able to reach some kind of agreement on the bill, they could fall back on the Supplemental Budget Bill, which calls for education cuts of $25 million this year and $20 million next year. By comparison, the Senate version of HB 236 would call for funding cuts of about $37 million and the house version would cut about $32 million.
There is also the possibility of a special session of the legislature being called to deal with education funding.