The Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Pizza & Politics” legislative wrap-up featuring Laramie County Elected Officials.
Audience members and the public submitted questions for the Legislators to address.
Representative Landon Brown enlightened attendees that with a higher retiree population the chances of increasing taxes is nominal. However this same older population does increase healthcare service expenses. They want these service but are unable increase taxes to pay for them. According to Representative Sarah Burlingame this is not exclusively the older population but all who expect these services, but are not willing to afford them through other revenue facets. Therefore healthcare programs and solutions need to be resolved.
Education continues to be a critical conversation in the legislature. Senator Tara Nethercott educated attendees on how revenue bills must be crafted in the House and this then gets vetted more once it transfers to the Senate. This was the response when addressing a question, “Why do revenue bills die once they are in the Senate?” One particular bill this happened to was HB-220. Representative Burlingame shared her passion for making sure education is funded and further expressed this is why she fully supported HB-220. It do not carry forward because it was deemed as unfair for industry by various policy makers.
“Wins” were also shared during the event. Many of the legislators viewed the passing of SF-111 as a success. This bill will empower community colleges around the State the opportunity to offer Bachelor Degrees of Applied Science. The hopes will be to have a higher output of Bachelors degrees and particularly in the technical fields, where current deficits reside for Wyoming employers. Senator Nethercott sponsored and championed this bill, along with her Laramie County peers.
Representative Bob Nicholas elaborated “I am really happy for this advancement for our community colleges because they have the capabilities and can service as a more direct resource for Wyoming employers with this in place.”
While this bill advanced educational offerings in Wyoming, there is an education deficit for K-12 that still needs resolved. Right now Representative Nicholas shared that the highest expense is personnel, therefore any cuts to education would be a reduction in staff. That is why it is imperative to assess revenue models. With current constitutional restraints in this arena, Representative Brown shared that they are open to creative ideas to think through lasting solutions for this. Another option that can be further explored according to Representative Sue Wilson is virtual education. Rather than having specialized educators in the rural communities, with the use of virtual education schools can supply access to specific subjects digitally.
With the adoption of the use of virtual resources to help address rural community needs, whether telehealth or virtual education, broadband access is critical. Representative Bill Henderson considers their legislative work on supplying broadband to rural communities a positive advancement.
State employees also received a salary increase according to Representative Nichols and said these increases will have a great impact on Laramie County.
Special thank you to the sponsors of the event:
- Wyoming AARP
- Holland & Hart
- RBC Wealth Management
- Short Elliot Hendricks, Inc.