A family-owned daily newspaper serving Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming since 1949

Cut school spending before raising taxes amid shortfall

Mar 16, 2017 - Nathan Williams, Kaycee

Editor:

To our Wyoming legislators and governor:

The citizens of Wyoming understand that a quality education is paramount for the future of this community, this state, and this country. We further understand that the current fiscal environment poses a challenge for school districts across the state. These monetary challenges extend to every facet of government.

However, we also recognize that private enterprises across this state are also facing difficult financial challenges. Consequently, the working people and families that drive these industries are struggling too.

From the energy sector to the agriculture field to Main Street Wyoming, revenues are down significantly across the spectrum. Private industries and enterprises are being forced to adjust their operations and make spending cuts. They don't have the luxury of instituting taxes.

Consider these numbers taken from the 2015 Wyoming Budget Fiscal Data Book, compiled by the Wyoming Legislative Service Office. Since 2000, the Education Block Grant Funding Model, which dictates school funding, has more than doubled, from nearly $643 million to more than $1.4 billion, more than tripling in the last 25 years, with the same relative number of students state wide. This increased our costs per student per year from $10,000 10 years ago to nearly $16,000 today, which is triple the cost from 20 years ago with no significant increase in test scores.

Does this meet our standards? Should we keep throwing money at such a system?

The citizens of Wyoming expect our local and state governments to face these challenges the same as private industry faces them. We expect spending cuts be made, not taxes levied. Additional taxes of any sort will only perpetuate the problem, not address the root issue. Wyoming families and private enterprises do not need the additional financial punishment that higher taxes inflict.

Hard times dictate hard choices. We the people expect government entities to make the same hard choices that the private sector does.

We thank you for your service and dedication.
 

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