Record oil prices and depressed demand for coal deprived the state of expected revenue. But the structural decline began several years before the pandemic landed in Wyoming, as thermal coal was gradually replaced by cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources. Most of the shortfall is likely to be felt in the state’s strong public education system, which has reaped the main benefits of fossil fuel production.
“We need to make sure the next generation of Wyoming students graduate with the tools they need to be successful in this modern economy,” Gordon said. “And that’s a moral obligation. How we get there and how we afford it is a question now asked of us. We have relied for years on a fundraising model that is no longer sustainable, the writing on the wall that we can throw every year. It’s broken.”
He stressed the need to simplify and reduce the budget.
“I believe the citizens of Wyoming should be able to easily understand how public school funds are spent to better understand the true financial situation of the state,” he said. “They deserve nothing less because it’s their money.”
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