POLITICS
06/11/2013 06:04 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2013

Cindy Hill, Demoted Wyoming Education Boss, Returns Money For Staffers

AP

Wyoming's Republican governor and his tea party opponent in next year's primary are in a public flap over how many taxpayer-funded staffers the opponent should get for her largely ceremonial state job.

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill (R), a tea party favorite who was stripped of her power earlier this year, said that she is declining $100,000 for two aides, so the state Department of Education can have more staffers for information management, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

But Gov. Matt Mead's (R) office said it doesn't understand why Hill is declining staff she asked for in the first place. Mead's spokesman told the Star Tribune that Hill requested an additional $113,000 for staff last week.

Mead signed a law removing her as the head of the Education Department and relegating her to largely ceremonial duties in January.

Mead and Republican legislators had expressed concern with how Hill was running the state education department and a legislative report suggested that Hill was not implementing new state education laws. She has defended her leadership of the agency and shortly after the demotion announced that she was challenging Mead in the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary.

Hill remains in office since the superintendent's job is part of the state constitution, but does not run the department. Her new duties include serving on a variety of boards, writing an annual report on education, advising school districts on how to prevent concussions, running the Teacher of the Year awards program and developing guidelines for the storage of toxic chemicals in schools. Hill has filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, which is now pending with the state Supreme Court.

The department is now run by a Mead appointee. Elections will be held next year to pick Hill's successor in the ceremonial post.

Hill and Mead have scuffled over staffing before. In February, Hill requested $6.2 million to fund a 15-person staff over the next two years, but Mead had been proposing $2.3 million and a 12-person staff for the superintendent's office. Hill sought the money to travel the state and host a series of conferences for educators. Hill said she wanted to pay teachers to attend her conferences.

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