Cheyenne, WY (KGWN) - The 62nd Legislature’s budget session kicked off today with Governor Mead’s State of the State address.
We also heard a response from legislative leaders. NewsChannel 5’s Robert Geha reports from the State Capitol.
Governor Mead hit on a number of areas in his fourth State of the State address including Wyoming’s economy, health care, the environment as well as highlights of his 3.3 billion dollar budget.
The governor says Wyoming is rated number 9 by CNBC in its 2013 Best States for Business rankings, number 1 or 2 best run state by 24/7 Wall Street and number 1 by the Tax Foundation in 2013 and again in 2014 as the most business friendly tax climate.
He says Wyoming has the 3rd lowest poverty rate in the nation, a 4.4 percent jobless rate which is much lower than the national unemployment rate, and billions in savings which has served the people of Wyoming well.
The governor re-stated his opposition to the optional Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which would give health insurance to more than 17,000 Wyoming residents who fall through the cracks.
Two Democrats in the leadership disagree with the Governor’s position on expanding Medicaid.
The governor also says his budget is conservative, striking a good balance between spending and savings.
175 million for local governments, raises for state employees and 200 million dollars left on the table for lawmakers to spend as they see fit.
As far as the ongoing debate over savings versus spending, House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says that of all the mineral
severance taxes collected off of oil and gas and coal 39 percent is saved, 61 percent is spent.
Both Chambers spent the afternoon introducing bills for debate.
We'll be following a host of them as well as the budget through the end of the session.