Wyoming Announces $250 Million in Budget Cuts Stemming From COVID-19, More Expected

August 31, 2020 by Dan McCue
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Its energy sector devastated by the coronavirus outbreak, officials in Wyoming announced $250 million in budget cuts, saying more are on the way.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, during a news conference last Wednesday.

“Each [of the cuts] is agonizing but I have to say … we just don’t see any other options,” he said.

Wyoming is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall this year due to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the coal, oil and natural gas industries.

The state relies on revenues from the sector to fund much of its budget, but as stay-at-home orders proliferated and large swaths of the economy shut down to try and stop the spread of the virus, demand for electricity plummeted.

That exacerbated long-standing challenges in the coal industry and largely shut down oil and natural gas exploration in the state. When the outbreak struck, there were 27 active exploration sites in the state; today there is only one.

“It is not likely that these trends are going to turn around rapidly or as significantly as we would like,” Gordon said.

“No matter how you look at the numbers, it’s been bad news,” he added.

The cuts follow a freeze in state hiring and contracting announced in April. They also follow a request from the governor in June that all state agencies and departments identify initial spending cuts of 10%.

Last week, Gordon said they’d done well. Despite this, a second round of cuts totaling another $250 million is expected soon, he said.

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