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Budget chairman concerned about Medicaid costs

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012

Responding to a legislative directive early this year to cut spending at the Health Department, Forslund presented lawmakers Thursday with a list of $19 million in cuts for the fiscal year that starts next July and runs through June 2014. The largest cuts are $7.2 million from Medicaid and $4.7 million from mental health and substance abuse programs.

Forslund's total proposed cuts amounted to $132 million, including the cuts for the coming fiscal year, the agency's 2015-16 biennial budget and resulting lost federal Medicaid matching dollars.

Mead has directed all state agencies to prepare for 8-percent budget cuts in the face of stagnant state revenues. The state's financial picture is further clouded by recent congressional action cutting more than $700 million in federal abandoned mine lands funds from the state.

Alan Edwards, administrator of Abandoned Mine Lands for the state, told lawmakers that Wyoming is supposed to continue to collect $15 million a year from the federal program, which imposes a tax on the production of coal. The program has raised $2.9 billion from coal production in Wyoming, the nation's leading coal-producing state, he said.

Mead and state lawmakers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the congressional action stripping the AML money from the state. While the state's congressional delegation has said it intends to try to restore the funding, Nicholas said the state will craft its budgets going forward on the assumption that it won't see the funds restored.