Session adjourns with $3.3 billion budget in place

Mar 7, 2014 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Senior Republican lawmakers and Gov. Matt Mead said the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday leaves Wyoming well-positioned both to meet the state's needs over the coming two years and to save money against possible hard times to come.

Vocal Democrats, however, said the $3.3-billion budget bill that was the crowning achievement of the legislative session that started Feb. 10 salts away too much money in savings. They hammered on the Republican majority for refusing to accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program.

Both houses of the Legislature sounded the final gavel just before 4:30 p.m. Thursday after hearing from Gov. Matt Mead.

Mead drew applause from members of the House when he told them coal will continue to be a valuable resource for the nation.

Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state, but it has seen production fall in recent years as the federal government has implemented increasingly tough emissions standards on coal-fired power plants.

"We're proud that we're a state that exports more energy than any other state," Mead said, adding that Wyoming's energy production helps the entire country.

"We're not standing still," Mead said. "We're not going to have the future of coal decided by regulatory agencies. We're going to have it defined by our work, our pro-active stance and our belief that coal is a valuable resource and should continue to be a valuable resource."

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