Governor Mark Gordon outlined his administration’s priorities for fiscal discipline, economic development, and improving Wyoming people’s quality of life in his State of the State Address to the 65th Wyoming Legislature on January 9, 2019 two days after he was sworn in as Wyoming’s 33rd governor.
“I have to say the enthusiasm we have felt over the past couple of days should give us all optimism for our future,” Governor Gordon said in his remarks. “We are a resourceful people in an amazing state at an important time in our state’s history. Let’s make the most of it.”
The recorded speech and prepared comments of the State of the State Address will be available at https://governor.wyo.gov/.
Gordon stressed one of his core beliefs, saying that, “Our best times will come when we assure a reliable and stable fiscal future,” he added. “It is hard to find a consistent path forward when one chases revenue, hopes for windfall or reacts drastically to downturns. It’s important that we find a course where ‘steady as she goes’ becomes the watchword.”
Governor Gordon expressed his appreciation to Governor Mead and his administration for preparing a supplemental budget that speaks to continuing Wyoming’s efforts to diversify the economy while emphasizing the needs of higher education, local communities, effective government and state infrastructure.
He also thanked the Wyoming Supreme Court Justices for their dedication to the constitution and the law and recognized the leaders of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and Northern Arapaho Tribe.
Governor Gordon lauded the Wyoming Legislature for their willingness to serve and commitment to the state.”You are a true citizen legislature and represent the fabric of Wyoming: Real people with real concerns, real jobs and real families.
“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,” he said.
Throughout his address, Governor Gordon highlighted several exemplary individuals, who are working to make Wyoming safer and stronger. They included: Wyoming Air National Guard Tech Sergeant Ben Eckman and his wife Sunny; Gillette’s Sage Valley Junior High Principal Terry Quinn; Jeff Holsinger, CEO of Volunteers of America Northern Rockies; Andrew Borgialli, who grew up on ranch in Johnson County and became a Gillette teacher; Wendy Hutchinson, one of the 100 Most Inspirational Women in Mining in the world; Casper Police Officer Jacob Carlson; and Ashlee Lundvall of Cody, an author and a motivational speaker.
The governor detailed the following priorities in his address.
- Rainy Day Account: “We must be wise with our savings using them when we need them. That is why as Treasurer and now as Governor I support a bill to better define the purpose of the Rainy Day Account, or LSRA, so that those nearly $2 billion dollars can be invested in better ways.”
Better, More Efficient Government
- Employee raises: “Governor Mead’s budget recommends a raise for Wyoming employees. I support this request because I know how vital motivated and talented employees are to efficient cost-effective government.”
- Efficient government: “I am not interested in growing the cost of government. I am interested in making it better. Working together with this legislature my administration will drive towards more efficient government.”
- Cowboy Budget Challenge: “I would like to engage Wyoming more broadly in our budget discussions. We can start with a program I’ve asked my fellow statewide elected constitutional officers to help get off the ground. I have asked each of them and the leadership of both Houses to sponsor a local high school of their choosing so that students get the chance to build a state budget. If there are any other legislators who would like to participate in the Cowboy Budget Challenge now is your chance.”
Supporting Local Communities
- Local government funding: “I applaud Governor Mead’s dedication to providing funding to local governments these past eight years and I’ll continue that work.”
- Tools and resources for communities: “… beyond dollars, I hope to move forward with improving the tools required for cities, towns and counties to prosper. This means finding ways to enhance the services of the State Loan and Investment Board. I also support the recommendations in the Supplemental Budget to augment the Federal Natural Resources Protection Account, a good buttress against federal overreach.”
- Wyoming Business Council/ ENDOW: “When it comes to the Wyoming Business Council and other community investment opportunities, I am beginning a comprehensive review of how all of our economic development programs work if they work together or apart. I believe we can improve our approaches and have already begun conversations with the Business Council and the Chairmen of the ENDOW and ENGAGE councils.”
- Broadband: “I support the ongoing effort to improve access to broadband internet coverage throughout the state.”
- School Safety: “I will join Superintendent Balow in launching a multi-year initiative to continue to improve student safety and health. We can find sensible and appropriate solutions that will enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of all students, as well as make school buildings safe.”
- Career and Tech Education: “… I support a suite of proposals including Wyoming Works, which promise new ways for high school students and even adults to continue their technical education and this will also stand up new career and technical education programs in our community colleges. I believe Wyoming should create a new Trust Fund under the Amendment A provision that with private industry’s support and a Wyoming match would offer scholarships for Career and Technical Education.”
- University of Wyoming: “The University of Wyoming is our flagship. And I’m glad to support further funding for scholarships to retain our best and brightest students to advance the effort to provide top-tier science programs and to advance other strategic initiatives. I also believe that we should support UW’s efforts to retain staff and faculty.”
- UW School of Energy Resources: “Energy must continue to be one of the pillars of our economy. To that end — I’ll continue to support the UW School of Energy Resources’ efforts across the spectrum of industries that have helped to build our state. SER has become a recognized global leader in areas that will continue to underpin our economy.”
- An Energy Leader: “In 2018 Wyoming hit a record for permit applications to drill for oil and gas. Wyoming also continues to be a global leader in trona, uranium and bentonite production. We must continue to advocate for all of these industries including fighting for level-playing fields internationally … Coal continues to power this country. And despite market trends and politics, it will remain an essential part of America’s energy portfolio for decades to come.”
- Innovation Leader: “Here in Wyoming we’ll continue to seek innovative solutions that support coal address climate change and grow our economy. We in Wyoming are anxious to lead the way to a brighter future not by following political fashion but by rolling up our sleeves doubling down on research and innovation and solving our world’s energy problems.”
- Enhanced State Energy Office: “This office can help speed up permitting for oil and gas drilling better site renewable energy projects all in service of improving our ability to wisely develop our full portfolio of resources in a transparent way. While safeguarding our wildlife, our open spaces and our livelihoods.”
Healthcare & Wellness Services
- Healthcare: “We’ve been given an opportunity to craft a Wyoming solution for health care. I look forward to working with the legislature to bring forth state-led solutions.”
- Mental Health: “I believe we have an obligation to improve access to mental healthcare for our veterans, for our first-responders and ultimately for all citizens. Substance abuse, moral injury, suicide, and PTSD, these are all concerns we as a state need to address. We can do more in our communities to help support those who are struggling with crisis.”
- Enhanced UW ag program: “In this supplemental budget there’s a call to further innovation in agriculture and in ranching through an enhanced UW ag program. I urge you to consider those proposals closely.“
- Invasive species program: “In our quest to be a top-tier agricultural school certainly one mission we should consider expanding is our research into better ways to expunge and control the spread of invasives. In support of that effort, I plan to work with UW’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, our community colleges and the state’s weed and pest districts to put together a program that will combine research with management. Aiming to make sure Wyoming is a leader nationally on combating invasive species.”
- Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust: “To further invest in our hunting, in our big game, in all wildlife, and their habitats, I’d like to add to the Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust this session. With the aim of moving towards having the Trust be self-sufficient, let’s not let this opportunity to build a legacy pass us by.”