Leadership: Let’s Get to Work
By Eric Barlow and Dan Dockstader
This week as the Wyoming Legislature readies to convene for the 66th Legislative Session, it is no secret there is much to do in a short amount of time.
This session will require focus, and as presiding officers, we set the expectations and communicate the priorities. The state is well positioned to advance a budget and policies for the betterment of all Wyoming people.
This year is a budget session. During these 20 days, your citizen legislature will be hard at work to fund government operations, local government funding, address legislative redistricting, appropriate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies and consider capital construction proposals, among other interim committee priority topics.
The work requires thoughtful coordination to navigate a full docket and compressed schedule. Items the legislature take up will be prioritized, following a realistic schedule and expectations.
We head into the budget session with Wyoming’s revenue picture largely more optimistic than initially projected due to higher oil and gas prices.
The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group’s (CREG) January forecast exceeded previous estimates by $248.1 million. The forecast also adjusted its estimates for Fiscal Years 2022-23, surpassing original estimates by an additional $596.9 million.
The added revenue is good news, but the volatility of these revenue sources requires careful planning and saving for the future to meet the needs of Wyoming’s people.
We must continue to move Wyoming forward by keeping it a business-friendly state. Maintaining a strong economy includes extending our lead in the growing technology sectors while at the same time maintaining our strong agriculture industry and continuing to find ways to strengthen our energy sectors.
Republicans in the House and Senate are committed to delivering a fiscally responsible budget to accommodate these key elements while recognizing the changing landscape of our economy.
The other critical duty before this legislature is to finalize the legislative redistricting map.
Every 10 years, the legislature is constitutionally required to undertake the redistricting process to match population shifts. This process has understandably been in the spotlight.
Redistricting is a robust effort, and appropriately so.
Unfortunately, the federal government’s delays in getting us the U.S. Census Bureau population data coupled with an October Special Session have constricted the time for seeking the compromises needed to complete this arduous task.
Unlike the federal government, we are confident we can do what Wyomingites do well and come together to find agreement on this topic.
Wyoming people working together in rural and urban areas makes for a strong state. This cooperative attitude bolsters our ability to best leverage the unique opportunity the ARPA funding presents.
Not since the oil and gas boom of the early 2000s has the state had the opportunity to invest at this level for Wyoming’s future. Good stewardship of these monies is of the utmost priority. We are committed to using these funds strategically to continue to create prosperity for the people of Wyoming.
As we look to the 66th Legislature, we are encouraged by the potential for doing good on behalf of Wyoming’s citizens.
This can be best realized by focusing our efforts and working together. Let’s get to the work of building a brighter future.
Eric Barlow (R-HD3) is the speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives. Dan Dockstader (R-SD16) is the president of the Wyoming Senate.