- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The governor of Wyoming faces a choice between laying off 90 state employees and finding an equivalent amount of savings amid declining revenue from fossil fuels.

The Wyoming Legislature set up the decision for Gov. Matt Mead by passing a supplemental budget that also enacted a state hiring freeze that took effect Monday. The freeze doesn’t apply to the University of Wyoming, community colleges and Department of Corrections.

Wyoming already has recently eliminated 319 positions through retirements and other routine vacancies, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/2pJ59kf).

State employees won’t necessarily lose their jobs soon but layoffs appear to be ahead, Mead Chief of Staff Kari Gray said.

“There aren’t a lot of vacancies left, and although people will retire and quit - I wouldn’t want to panic anybody, as there are lots of ways to deal with it where it’s not going to result in somebody losing their job - but you have to worry about that as it gets tighter,” Gray said.

Mead ordered Wyoming agencies last year to cut their budgets by $250 million in response to declining revenue from coal, oil and natural gas extraction.

The university is exempted from the hiring freeze but not potential layoffs. Employees will begin receiving notifications May 15 if their positions have been eliminated, though the number is expected to be fewer than 50, university spokesman Chad Baldwin said.

The university will be down by around 400 positions since last May, Baldwin said.

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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