Gov. Matt Mead should be receiving the budget requests approved Wednesday by the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees — without funding requests for the medical school.
The board approved the regular budget request with little debate, after much discussion during the July Board of Trustees retreat in Cheyenne. Employee compensation, retention and funding for a new financial system top the list of 18 items.
A separate list of seven budget items, listed as “UW Medical,” was not approved and was postponed for a future meeting after several UW trustees sought more information about the program’s funding. The budget still needs to be submitted by Aug. 15, said Bill Mai, vice president of administration, but delaying the vote was likely the best course of action.
“Having a second meeting is a good idea — (the medical budget) is that complicated,” Mai said. “They should be fully aware of what they’re being asked to vote on.”
UW is one of five member-states of WWAMI, a medical program that aims to train and retain doctors in five lower-population Western states — Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.
Most of the discussion centered on funding the UW Family Medicine Residency Program’s clinics in Cheyenne and Casper. The clinics are used by doctors with a medical degree to complete their residencies, which is important for bringing and keeping doctors to Wyoming.
“The estimate is that 40 percent of the doctors who run through the residency program in Cheyenne and Casper end up practicing in Wyoming,” said Chris Boswell, vice president for governmental and community affairs.
Students in the nursing and pharmaceutical programs can also use the clinics for education and training. The clinics also provide medical support to people throughout the state.
One line item currently on the budget has the Cheyenne clinic requesting about $2.2 million in general funds to be used for salary increases and equipment purchases, Mai said. The clinic’s internal revenue likely won’t cover its projected operational cost — compiled based on budgets from previous years— for the coming budget cycle, meaning the clinic might need to seek other funding sources.
“(The Cheyenne clinic) knows they’re going to be short for the clinic revenue, so they’re asking for the $2.2 million in general funding,” Mai said. “(They’re) assuming it doesn’t happen.”
However, the Casper clinic is likely working ahead of its projected standard budget by about $1.8 million, Mai said.
“In Casper, it’s the reverse situation — they had a certain level projected, and it came in at this higher level, and they’re looking for authorization to use that additional revenue,” he said.
The additional revenue would be used similarly to Cheyenne — for salaries and equipment. One item eliminated from the budget request, because of an amendment put forth by Trustee Mike Massie, was for targeted salary increases for key positions.
“(Positions) are under market value,” he said. “(The clinics) are having a difficult time attracting and retaining people. This is a problem that is not unique to the residency program. That’s the reason, regarding compensation, they are treated the same way as the rest of the university.”
Massie brought forward a second possibility, which would have shifted funding between the two clinics, such as taking excess money from the Casper clinic and put it toward funding the Cheyenne clinic’s requests. The discussion was tabled until the trustees can review how the possible changes would affect the clinics. A conference call meeting will likely be scheduled in the next week to finish and possibly approve the medical budget request.