CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead checks the spot price of natural gas daily as part of his routine because of the crucial funding the natural gas industry provides to state government.
Today, the price stood at $3.34 per thousand cubic feet. This is good news for the state compared to spring prices
below $2, but compared to a year ago today, the price still stands 18 cents lower.
"You can put too much on these spot prices, but the facts are gas prices are not where we'd like to see them and it's affecting our budgets," Mead said at a press conference this morning. The effect is so great that Mead called for almost across-the-board budget cuts of 8 percent earlier this year
. But today he announced the landscape of those cuts, if nothing else, will be more varied.
"Some agencies will not be cut the full 8 percent," he said, adding most of those agencies couldn't take the cuts without jettisoning jobs to do so. He said cuts will be between 5 and 7 percent for some.
However, for the governor's office itself, Mead has proposed a larger budget cut.
"We are cutting 10 percent to set an example," Mead said, calling it "not easy" to do.
Mead said the cuts remain necessary because of future spending projections. He mentioned the loss of $700 million in Abandoned Mine Lands funding
as cause for concern alongside the possibility of a second drought year, which could contribute to another robust fire season. He said firefighting
in Wyoming cost about $100 million this year
, about $45 million of which will fall to the state.
"It's not a good plan in my mind to not have money available to fight fires," he said, noting he is planning on having "a little more" than what it cost this year to fight fires set aside for 2013.
Mead offered few details on how the governor's office plans to cut 10 percent, saying he didn't want to lock himself in to certain details before the budgeting deadline.
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