The budget that Gov. Mark Gordon is presenting to the Legislature contains few of the increases to the University of Wyoming’s budget that trustees asked for. His budget for the upcoming biennium was released Monday.
To continue the current services already funded by the Legislature’s block grant, UW would need a legislative appropriation of $435 million for the 2021-2022 biennium.
However, university officials had hoped the Legislature would increase the block grant to $501 million for the upcoming biennium.
A $65.8 million budget increase, however, was much more than Gordon was willing to support and his budget includes none of the $30 million UW had asked for to boost its general operations.
In UW’s budget request, the university said that $30 million would’ve been used to help hire College of Business professors to ensure its programs remain accredited, increase blockchain programming, boost the stature of the College of Agriculture, and pay for operations at the Science Initiative and Engineering Education and Research building.
Aside for funding for general operations, UW had asked for $43.8 million in state funding to create new endowments, but Gordon is only supporting $12.5 million of that request, including half of the $10 million that UW had requested to hire new endowed faculty.
“Although our current fiscal situation means the community colleges and the University of Wyoming will not receive all of their additional funding requests, I supported several new one-time investments, especially those that align with the economic opportunities our state is cultivating,” Gordon said in his budget message released Monday morning. “Attracting and retaining talent to the university is not easy during this era, but providing $5 million in matching funds for endowed professorships is a step in the right direction.”
Gordon is also supporting UW’s endowment requests for $2.5 million for the College of Law and $5 million to match already secured and expected grant funding for the Center of Innovation for Flow through Porous Media, an institution housed at the High Bay Research Facility that’s focused on research in technology of oil and gas recovery
The endowment requests Gordon is not supporting include:
n $18.7 million as a cost share for a $100 million grant from the Department of Energy for the design and construction Flameless Pressurized Oxy-combustion technology at the UW Central Energy plant.
n $2 million for development of a “pre-commercial technology solution” for coal in Gillette
n $2 million for a combustion test facility at UW
n $3 million for the Trustees’ Education Initiative
In total, the governor’s budget increases asked for by UW that Gordon fully supported are the $10.1 million in increased programmatic funding asked by the School of Energy Resources and the Tier 1 Engineering Initiative.
The proposed funding for SER includes $1.3 million to fund the school’s now Energy Policy Analysis Program, which was added in the current fiscal year and has a mission of developing “pragmatic and effective energy solutions for Wyoming policymakers.”
Gordon also backed $8.8 million for UW’s proposed carbon engineering efforts, including:
n $1.7 million to demonstrate “the performance of a coal-derived asphalt paving material on a suitable road location,”
n $1.2 million for “batch commercial manufacture of a developed dry methane reforming catalyst for converting CO2 in the presence of natural gas into valuable petrochemical products.”
n $1.8 million in funding for carbon engineering for “undertaking pilot plant testing of UW-patented thermo-chemical processing of coal to establish the parametric engineering databook in preparation for undertaking a prefeasibility engineering study.”
n $1.2 million is requested for “pre-commercial manufacture of construction materials derived from Wyoming (Power River Basin) coal and construction of a full-size building for demonstration purpose.”
• $1.1 million for “pre-commercial manufacture and testing of carbon fiber and related material derived from Wyoming (Power River Basin) coal in automotive application lightweight composite materials and for use in electrical energy storage products with commercial entities.
• $1.1 million has been requested for the “conduct of agricultural field trials of a coal-based soil amendment product augmented with Wyoming-sourced nutrient material.” Field testing of that soil amendment is planned to be conducted in collaboration with the Wyoming Sugar Beet Association and private farmers.
• $700,000 is being requested to “scale-up manufacture and field testing of polymeric and coating materials derived from Wyoming (Power River Basin) coal, in concert with a commercial chemical supply company.”