State Budget Footnote Offers Avenue for Continued WyoTech Operation
The Legislature sent their state budget bill to Gov. Matt Mead Wednesday, which included appropriations that would allow for a community college or other private entity to assume operations of WyoTech in Laramie.
House Bill No.1, of which Gov. Mead issued a number of line-item vetoes Wednesday night, does not explicitly name WyoTech, but instead describes an “automotive technology trade school” in section 331, titled “Community College Operation of Automotive Technology Trade School.”
The footnote calls for Gov. Mead, in conjunction with the Wyoming Business Council, to solicit proposals for the continued operation of an automotive technology trade school. It also allows Mead to approve a $5 million grant or loan to a community college, or a private party, for fiscal year 2020.
LCCC President Joe Schaffer said the $5 million amount was what LCCC had determined the cost of WyoTech operation for the first biennium would be.
Mead issued only one line-item veto for the footnote, which eliminates the April 1 deadline for the WBC to to evaluate all the proposals and recommend to the Governor the one which provided the greatest benefit to the state. Gov. Mead said in his veto message that the deadline was not a realistic time frame.
In February, officials with Laramie County Community College announced their plan to take over WyoTech operations. The plan requested that the 2018 Legislature appropriate $,8,465,026 in one-time, exception budget funding to support LCCC assuming WyoTech over the next four years. It also said it would require a stable stream of local funding and recommended Albany County and the City of Laramie provide biennial funding in the amount of at least $1,494,636 by no later than July 2, 2021.
Schaffer emphasised that any proposal submitted by LCCC was not intended to compete with any private sector proposals to acquire WyoTech and that the LCCC proposal was created with the intent to do what they could to allow WyoTech to remain open. Schaffer said the WBC would only have their proposal in the absence of any workable private sector proposal.
Jim Mathis, former WyoTech student, instructor and president said he also presented a proposal Monday to acquire the WyoTech campus to Education Management Company, WyoTech’s parent company.
Education Management Company, WyoTech’s parent company, announced on Nov. 8 that WyoTech courses would be ‘taught out’ and the technical college would be closing in June.
Laramie Mayor Andrea Summerville said the City Council passed a resolution in support of the LCCC prospectus, but she said the Council will wait to see what the outcomes are after the WBC reviews the proposals to assume WyoTech before beginning work on funding options.
The Albany County Commissioners also approved a resolution supporting LCCC's WyoTech prospectus. However, Commissioner Tim Chesnut said the county doesn't have the funding to support the prospectus financially.
The House and Senate are scheduled to meet this afternoon, at which point they could override and veto Gov. Mead issued with a 2/3 majority vote on both sides.