Governor addresses issues
Gov. Mark Gordon addressed the leadership and members of the 66th Wyoming legislature during the one-day virtual Legislative meeting Jan. 12. The ongoing pandemic, energy issues and considerations for a reduced budget were emphasized in his speech.
Wyoming has been resilient in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, said Gordon. Although precautions have continued, Wyoming saw record levels of business for those involved in tourism, and hunting and fishing remained at near-record levels.
“Beyond the significant drought throughout much of the state, agriculture faced daunting challenges this year,” said Gordon. “But, as always, our farmers and ranchers were able to persevere through their skill and determination.”
He continued, “Wool growers and meat processors in particular had to deal with the pandemic’s extraordinary impact on markets and their workers. But, their difficult experience has given us some good ideas to potentially help support and expand these important industries.”
Gordon explained the state of Wyoming secured $1.25 billion of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding and delivered nearly all of it to small businesses, schools, long-term care facilities, hospitals, first responders, local governments and communities.
“Because of all the aid and incredible effort, we find ourselves on much more solid footing than other states are today,” he added.
As energy production remains one of the greatest providers to the Wyoming economy, Gordon is concerned about the impact of the next administration’s actions regarding mining and extraction.
“Wyoming has responsibly led the way for a new energy horizon, and one which values all sources of energy from nuclear, oil, gas and coal to renewables like wind and solar,” he shared. “We will always defend our state and protect her interests through every legal, political, business and technology option available.”
Gordon explained current litigation is challenging the state of Washington for using federal regulation to block access to Asian markets for Wyoming coal as an unlawful restraint of trade. He also shared progress on the carbon capture technology has continued, reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.
“No matter what comes next, Wyoming must stay focused on both defending and promoting our energy industry. We cannot and will not let the misguided actions of special interests and federal agencies rob our future,” he told legislators.
The budget challenges facing the state of Wyoming are a fiscal storm, comparable to the blizzard of 1949, shared Gordon. He encouraged legislators to re-examine where and how resources are secured for needed services and to look for ways to stabilize booms and busts coming from a focused revenue source.
“Wyoming must look for ways to provide relief for our most heavily taxed industries, making them more competitive nationally and internationally to our mutual benefit,” he said. “The state must look for ways to better benefit from a more diversified economy, and essential to the economy is a stronger workforce.”
Gordon shared more information on the state budget will soon be released, and a more comprehensive State of the State Address will be offered at a later date.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.