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Gordon sees optimism for Wyo in first State of the State

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Cheyenne – In his first State of the State Address, Gov. Mark Gordon noted a general feeling of excitement from across the state.

“I was both inspired and humbled by the wellspring of good energy that this state seems to be feeling right now,” Gordon said. “The state is excited and expecting good things from all of us.” 

He added, “ I have to say the enthusiasm we have felt over the past couple of days should give us all optimism for our future. We are a resourceful people in an amazing state at an important time in our state’s history. Let us make the most of it.” 

Though he has felt the support of the state over the past six years as State Treasurer, Gordon says he was humbled to give his first State of the State address. 

“Following close on the heels of an inaugural for only the fourth time in our state’s history, it has been, in fact, 56 years since a newly elected Gov. Hansen gave his Inaugural Address and his State of the State in the same week,” he commented.

Strength in the state

Overall, Gordon emphasized, “As I take up my part of the responsibilities that the people of Wyoming have entrusted me with, I am happy to declare the State of Wyoming is strong.”

The strength of the state, he continued, comes from its people, its resources and Wyoming’s work ethic.

With a full session already started, Gordon said, “I look forward to our work in this session as we grapple with the concerns of our people, the opportunities our state provides, sorting our budget priorities and the other issues that a general session brings forth for discussion.”

Fiscal concerns

Though 2019 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature has a much smaller focus on the budget, Gordon commented, “Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to Gov. Mead and his administration for preparing a supplemental budget that speaks to continuing Wyoming’s efforts to diversify our economy while also emphasizing the needs of higher education, local communities, effective government and state infrastructure.”

He further recognized instability created by the boom-and-bust cycle Wyoming falls into, further commenting that recent reports have left the state more optimistic at the potential for future prosperity again. 

As the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) met in early January to review and calibrate October estimates, Gordon said, “Since October, things have changed. Global volatility has increased, and oil and gas prices have declined.” 

“I believe our best times will come when we assure a reliable and stable fiscal future. It is hard to find a consistent path forward when one chases revenue, hopes for windfall or reacts drastically to downturns,” he emphasized. “It is important that we find a course where ‘steady as she goes’ becomes the watchword.” 

While responsible savings has helped stabilize downturns, discipline will continue to be important in using, refilling and augmenting savings during times of prosperity. He supports legislation to define the “rainy day” account, or Legislation Stabilization Reserve Account, to invest nearly $2 billion and assure both better returns and additional stability.

“Because all of us here run household budgets, we know there is a beauty in simplicity. Understanding the fact that a little more than one-third of our total portfolio is made up by the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund – this is money which cannot be appropriated, and another third is specific to various education missions, which are also permanent funds,” Gordon commented. “This leaves only one-third for us to work with. We really do not have money to waste.” 

The best strategy moving forward, he emphasized, is not raising taxes but rather containing expenditure and finding better ways to deliver services and find savings. 

Education

At the top of his priority list is school safety and student health, as well as stable and predictable funding. He also emphasized a need for continuing technical education opportunities. 

“Over the course of the last couple of years Wyoming, like a lot of states, is suffering from a lack of a skilled workforce,” Gordon said.

He added, “Education is changing. Our economy is changing. Today, more than ever, we need to provide the educational opportunities to enable a nimble workforce to find a job with companies right here in Wyoming.”

As a result, Gordon noted he will support efforts to find new ways for high school students and adults to continue and expand their technical education and focus on higher education.

He noted support for University of Wyoming  (UW) efforts to expand degree programs to reflect the needs of Wyoming’s top industries, saying, “UW is responding to the times and proving to be innovative in its own right.”

Local communities

“Ultimately though, to make Wyoming stronger, our focus must be on local communities,” Gordon said.

Gordan said local police and sheriff’s departments, fire halls and communities must be supported moving into the future. 

He commented, “I believe the best decisions are made closest to where the impact of those decisions is felt. It is also at the local level where individuals and entrepreneurs can spur new businesses that align with a community’s values and assets.

With Gov. Matt Mead leading the charge to provide local funding, Gordon noted he hopes to continue to move forward and improve access to services provided by the state.

In addition, Gordon supports continued access to broadband internet throughout the state and expansion of tele-health networks, along with other technology advancements, to improve quality of life for Wyomingites.

“As governor, I will support our hometowns as they chart their own courses into the future,” he said.

New leadership

Gordon noted engagement in government for individuals is increasingly important, commenting, “For those watching or listening at home, my hat is off to you for being engaged with government. The topics discussed today and bills that will be debated can only get better with citizens’ input.” 

He noted Wyoming’s advantages, including its status as a headwaters state and its clean air and water and the quality of people in the state, poise it well to succeed into the future.

“I cannot do justice to the gratitude and humility I feel to be standing here as governor and governor of the greatest state in the nation,” Gordon said. “God bless Wyoming, and God bless America.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.net.

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