Gov. Gordon sees opportunity in Wyoming’s future
Cheyenne – After embarking on his second term as governor of the state of Wyoming, Mark Gordon continued the optimism from his Second Inaugural Address on Jan. 2 into his official State of the State Address before the Wyoming Legislature on Jan. 11 at 10 a.m.
“Wyoming’s history and traditions are hard at work here. Our people’s work ethic and moral fortitude made Wyoming what it is and remain a worthy compass for us all,” Gordon started. “Wyoming is strong and her future bright. Together, in the weeks to come, we have the opportunity to make her even stronger for our people and for generations to come.”
From energy and water to agriculture, Gordon noted, “When it comes to natural resources, we need good partners in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, with energy we do not seem to have reliable partners in the Biden administration.”
Biden, commented Gordon, is more willing to partner with Saudi Arabia and Venezuela than with Wyoming, and his “misguided policies have cost the nation dearly in these past two years.”
High fuel costs had adversely affected Americans, and Gordon noted the administration should be extending a handshake to Wyoming energy producers.
In the Wyoming energy picture, Gordon noted change and innovation are both essential, and carbon capture technology will help provide the catalyst to enhance fossil fuel production in the state.
“Wyoming has eight coal-fired plants, powering about 7.5 million homes. Wyoming coal provides reliable electricity to almost one-quarter of all U.S. households,” he explained. “But, in the minds of Washington, D.C. bureaucrats, all fossil fuels should go extinct.”
“The good news is we are making progress with carbon capture technology,” Gordon emphasized. “The work of prior legislatures on permitting advanced nuclear projects and support of developing rare earth minerals, hydrogen productions and CO2 capture are important to our nation and our state’s future.”
He added, “Wyoming is becoming recognized for being forward-thinking on environment, climate and energy.”
Alongside energy, Gordon said Wyoming’s management of water has been vital and will continue to be important in the wake of continuing drought across the West.
“Watersheds across Wyoming are severely stressed,” he explained. “Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Colorado River Basin. Challenges like water curtailments for agriculture, municipalities and industry are almost inevitable, and we must be prepared to protect our interests.”
Budget increases, he noted, must be made in the State Engineer’s Office in order to protect the state’s interests and address old, crumbling infrastructure.
“We take great pride in responsibly managing our natural resources, from agricultural land and bountiful minerals to wildlife and its habitat,” Gordon commented. “Agriculture and natural resource management in Wyoming are not just industries. They are a way of life, part of our cultural identity as a state, as is the balance in multiple uses of our lands.”
Again, Washington, D.C. is challenging agriculture, with a growing number of people in government who do not understand, nor appreciate, how close people in the state live to the land, the wildlife and the Western culture.
Wyoming’s involvement in over 30 lawsuits challenges the overreach and overregulation from the federal government, but such suits are expensive.
“The attorney general’s team is getting some good results on federal vaccine mandates, strengthening the border, grizzly bear management, oil and gas interests and simply requiring federal agencies to comply with the law when considering land transfers,” he summarized.
“Wyoming’s ag roots run deep and help define us,” Gordon emphasized. “I need not remind all those here that Wyoming was built on agriculture.”
Goals in government
In light of the 2023 General Session and the work ahead of Wyoming’s citizen legislators, Gordon explained his recommendations in the Supplemental Budget are important and fiscally prudent.
“Our budget is critical because how we handle our finances this year will affect our people and our future significantly,” he remarked. “Fortunately, Wyoming finds herself at a remarkable juncture. Federal government largess and energy markets have given Wyoming a financial bumper crop.”
However, Gordon said, just because the year has been good, it is important to not spend excessively.
“As a Wyoming rancher, I know the value of a good hay year. Because they do not always come around, it is important we make hay when the conditions are right,” he explained. “Ranchers also know how important it is to set aside excess for leaner times ahead – and leaner times appear likely.”
With supply chains, inflation, labor markets and overall economic uncertainty, the future is undefined at best, and the state must carefully consider its actions.
Budgets and the economy
When setting budgets, Gordon noted Wyoming must live within its means and justify its expenditures, while also living up to its obligations.
“We must address the concerns of our most vulnerable and those living on a fixed income who are feeling the inflationary pinch,” he said. “Inflation is a concern for the workforce too.”
Wyoming’s state workers, he cited, are underpaid compared to surrounding states, and it is critical to ensure they are fairly paid to protect against vacancies in critical jobs.
“Wyoming is strong and getting stronger. We are becoming more resilient through diversification, which means our economy is better able to avoid the booms and busts plaguing us over our history,” Gordon stated. “Today, I can proudly say Wyoming’s economy is the most diverse it has been in over 50 years.”
At the same time, legacy industries are staying at the top, while other sectors, such as hospitality, manufacturing, finance and professional and business services, are continuing to grow.
“Businesses from around the state are looking to expand, and those in other parts of the country are looking to relocate to Wyoming,” he explained. “A diversifying economy also needs a nimble, skilled and ambitious workforce.”
Collaboration and adequate funding of Wyoming’s higher education institutions through programs like the Wyoming Innovation Partnership are critical to supporting Wyoming’s economic development needs.
Looking at the future
“Wyoming is poised to be a leader on so many fronts,” Gordon summarized. “Our expertise in resource management, advanced carbon innovation, energy security, our value-added agriculture and fiscal prudence make us a leader in all these areas.”
Further, Gordon stated Wyoming’s belief in government close to the people that doesn’t interfere with personal liberty makes the state a model for others.
He explained, “I learned early on in a hayfield that a good foundation and tied-in corners were important to make sure the stack I made stood. If it did not, I was expected to fix it on my own time and without help. Wyoming is blessed to have a good foundation, and our corners are tied in.”
Citing a letter penned by General George Washington to Congress and the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, Gordon said, “While we should speak our mind, we should also have a servant’s heart so we can each do our share of the task of making this special place we call home thrive long into the future.”
He concluded, “God bless Wyoming and her people. God bless these United States of America.”
Saige Zespy is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.