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The Old Main building on the University of Wyoming campus. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

University of Wyoming trustees to hear plan on budget cuts

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees was scheduled to discuss Wednesday how the state’s only public four-year university will cut more than $40 million from its budget over the next two years.

New UW President Laurie Nichols will present the trustees with her plan to start cutting the budget, beginning July 1.

The state has reduced its financial aid to the university because of a drop in tax revenue from the downturn in Wyoming’s energy extraction industry.

The Legislature trimmed spending by about 1.5 percent during its budget session earlier this year. That resulted in about $3 million a year less for the university.

But the state’s revenue picture has worsened even more since lawmakers left Cheyenne, and Gov. Matt Mead says the state will have to cut spending by about an additional 8 percent from the state’s $3 billion two-year budget. Mead has already told the UW trustees that the university will see its state support reduced by about another $33 million.

Mead is scheduled to meet with the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee next Tuesday to detail proposed cuts in other state agencies.

For the university, the cut in state funding is compounded by a need to find about $13 million over a two-year period to cover costs related to a new financial and reporting system, increased utility expenses and other needs that the Legislature said it could not fund. That means reallocating money it had planned for other things.

Wyoming derives most of its tax revenue from the extraction of coal, oil, natural gas and other minerals. However, low prices, growing wind and natural gas competition and new federal regulations have taken a toll on the industry. Several major coal companies with mines in Wyoming have filed for bankruptcy and hundreds of mine workers have been laid off in recent weeks. Thousands of other jobs directly and indirectly linked to the energy industry also have been lost over the last year.

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