OFFICE OF GOVERNOR MATT MEAD
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Ph. (307) 777-7434
******FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE******
CHEYENNE, WY Governor Matt Mead delivered his first State of the State address to the 61st Wyoming Legislature on Jan. 12, presenting a vision for Wyoming that was optimistic and directed at improving the state’s economy, increasing funding to cities and improving infrastructure.
Governor Mead said that, “We are the envy of other states, yet there remains much to be done in order to secure a better future…because when the nation remains under an economic cloud, the cloud moves our way.”
The governor discussed ways to make government fiscally responsible. He said that he will require a commitment letter from state agency heads to approach the budgeting process with fiscal discipline. And he noted that he hopes to consolidate the Department of Employment and Workforce Services under one director, Joan Evans. He called for a “serious look at reorganizing the Department of Health” under his newly appointed director, Casper City Manager Tom Forslund. The governor described the department as big and unwieldy. And he told legislators that he will not support the $61.9 million recommended by Gov. Dave Freudenthal for construction of school facilities unless he sees an improved contractor preference law to govern the construction.
Governor Mead encouraged diversifying the state’s economy to create jobs and made specific recommendations, including looking for “value-added projects that use some of our energy here. For example, our superb wind resources partner well with natural gas-fired turbines which fill out the energy stream during lulls in the wind.” He said that Wyoming has natural advantages to attract mega data centers, such as a favorable weather climate and abundant, relatively inexpensive electricity.
Governor Mead explained in depth his support for a plan to divert one half of 1 percent of the statutory severance tax on minerals and splitting it into thirds – 1/3 to local governments, 1/3 to highways, and 1/3 to the state’s rainy day fund. The distribution would be about $52.15 million to each of the three categories. He recommended that 75 percent of the local money be spent on capital construction, with 25 percent on operations. And he said he would like to see the funding stream become permanent.
“Do we believe in Wyoming enough—our people, our towns, our counties, our small businesses, and our future—to put Wyoming first?” asked the governor. He said to the legislators, “In making your decision, remember that just as some of us view the federal government with a skeptical eye, so too does a city council member look at Wyoming’s capitol. Do we trust local governments in the way we would ask Congress to trust us? We should, and this 1/3 is a way to show our faith in local government.”
The governor said that he has taken steps to join the Florida lawsuit against the federal healthcare plan, the Affordable Care Act, saying that the law will significantly increase our Medicaid rolls and that Wyoming solutions will be a better way to solve problems of health care availability and affordability. He said that costs of joining the Florida lawsuit will be small, approximately $1,000, although it could be more.
But, said the governor, “Frankly, even for a much larger amount I am willing to fully test the legality of the law because it has implications beyond health care. … The best solutions for Wyoming come from Wyoming. I would ask for your support to keep Wyoming’s voice strong.”
Governor Mead praised the Legislature because, “This body has and will continue to set an example of vigorous but always civilized debate.”
For the first time, the State of the State address was carried live in a webcast that was viewed by approximately 1300 computer users. Video of the speech and a written version of the prepared remarks are available on the governor’s website, http://governor.wy.gov.
Susan Anderson - Interim Press Secretary
CELL (307) 277-7026