Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed the state’s first school choice program into law.

Though he did line-item veto, part of the measure.

HB 166 – gives parents a choice in what schools are available to them.

It's more commonly known as the Wyoming Education Savings Accounts (ESA) Act.

This act will create an ESA program for low-income students.

Scholarship amounts are prorated based on family income.

Families at 150% or less of the federal poverty level can receive $6,000; families at or below 200% receive $4,800, and so on until the income limit of 500%.

This program even helps the poorest families who cold not normally afford a private school.

It should save Wyoming a lot of money since these schools run at a fraction of the cost of public education, yet typically provide better educational results.

The vetoed provision in the bill makes any household over 150% of the poverty level ineligible.

That would be a threshold of less than $50,000 household income for a family of four.

In his line-item veto opinion, the Governor wrote,

“simply including some means testing that scales the amount of benefit does not give a program a public purpose or make it part of the ‘necessary support of the poor,’” as stipulated in Article 16, Section 6 of the state constitution.

The Governor is also concerned about Article 7, Section 8 – the Blaine Amendment – which is funding that would go to religious schools.

Phylicia Peterson, TSM Cheyenne
Phylicia Peterson, TSM Cheyenne

The Governor write that the bill "might potentially violate provisions in our Wyoming Constitution that explicitly prohibit the allocation of public funds to [sectarian and religious schools],” but was willing to risk it since “recent US Supreme Court rulings in these matters could argue persuasively to our benefit."

The rulings in question – Trinity v. Comer, Espinoza v. Montana, and Carson v. Makin – found it unconstitutional for private, religious institutions to be excluded from public funding purely due to their religious status. (Herzog Foundation).

Gordon urged state leaders to proceed cautiously with the new ESA program.

The program will launch in 2025.

Must Read Books From Wyoming Authors

Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods

The Tate Geological Museum Casper Wyoming

The Tate Geological Museum was founded in 1980 through a gift from Marion and Inez Tate. It was originally designated as the Tate Earth Science Center and Mineralogical Museum. Because ‘geological’ encompasses earth science, mineralogy, and paleontology, the name was changed to the Tate Geological Museum in 2001.

Located on the Casper College campus, the museum is a great resource for the community. Many local schools and groups come to the museum to add to their student's learning experience.

Tate houses a collection of over 6000 fossil and mineral specimens.

Gallery Credit: Glenn Woods