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They’re Vital to Wyoming

Written by Dennis Sun
By the time you read this issue of the Roundup, the 2012 Wyoming Legislature should be history. All of their work has ended up either in the trashcan or on the Governor’s desk, and some leftover issues will go on as interim studies during the summer and fall.   
   The budget was the main issue this year, as state revenues have dropped somewhat. That may not have been too bad of a thing to happen, as we may have been living a little high on the hog as far as state government is concerned. Some will always make the case for not making any cuts at all in our state budget, but, no matter how lean, you can always cut somewhere.  
    I’m glad I’m not responsible for the State Department of Health – how does anyone wrap their arms around that department? It always needs more dollars, but what’s right and what’s wrong to fund? The cost of medicine and its services always seems to go up, and just understanding what is going on in the department would be mind-boggling. There was some discussion in the Senate, specifically from Senator Scott, to increase funds that would reduce the waiting list for services for the developmentally disabled, but even that was put off until next year, for good reasons.
    Even when dollars may be short, the state still has to fund some programs to grow as a state, and education is one. I believe we are doing, and did during this past Legislature, a good job for education, notably our community colleges. While I’m committed to our University of Wyoming, and always will be, I feel we need a strong community college system in the state. I’m totally in support of one strong four-year university in Wyoming – we realize we don’t need a competing four-year institution of advanced learning here. I have seen too many states like our neighboring state of South Dakota desperately trying to fund numerous four-year colleges, and they may now have to cut funding to all colleges.
    There is no argument against the good that our community colleges do in providing Wyoming’s workforce with trained people. With an associate degree, many are stepping into career-long jobs that our state needs.  
    For many years our community colleges received inadequate funding for facilities repair or building replacement. That has changed in the last few years, and this year was no exception. Give your local legislators a “good job” when you see them, not only on this issue but on all that they have done in this session.

    Next week, on March 15, we will celebrate the third annual National Teach Ag Day, a day set aside to celebrate agriculture education and for teachers to share with their students the possibilities of a career in the agriculture profession. We all realize there is a national shortage of agricultural educators in the U.S., and National Teach Ag Day is part of a campaign to raise awareness of the career. Thank any ag educators you see next week for their part in agriculture, and visit with young people on the merits of being an ag educator.
    Dennis