Seeking to secure his seat as Wyoming’s present Governor, Republican Matt Mead addressed an audience of locals and landowners during a “Meet and Greet” at the Shooting Sports Building in Lusk on Sunday. Discussing topics ranging from economic development to legal battles with the EPA, Mead underscored his victories thus far and the challenges ahead.
Mead opened with an enumeration of his administration’s achievements. The first of these was the jobless rate, which, according to the incumbent Governor, is markedly lower than it was in 2010. Additionally, Mead stated that Wyoming’s jobless rate had fallen roughly 2.9 percent during his first term. Mead contended that these figures underscored the overall strength of Wyoming’s workforce.
“Four years ago, our unemployment was about 6.7 percent,” Mead said. “Right now, it’s about 3.8 percent. As a matter of fact, we have more people working in the state of Wyoming right now than we have ever had in the history of our state.”
Segueing into the topics of fiscal discipline and budgetary prudence, Mead highlighted the growth of Wyoming’s nest eggs. According to a summary of Mead’s first term that was provided for attendees, the state’s permanent savings had increased from $5.3 billion to a projected total of $6.7 billion. Meanwhile, the rainy day savings had experienced growth from $600 million to $1.6 billion.
Synopsizing this victory, Mead said, “During that same period of time, we’ve increased our savings and permanent savings and rainy day savings by hundreds of millions of dollars.”
A reduction in state-level employment by 300 workers was another success trumpeted by the Governor. According to Mead, this reduction was indicative of the fact that the state government was doing more with less.
“We have fewer (state) employees in the state of Wyoming than we did four years ago,” Mead said.
Streamlining rules was yet another accomplishment proffered by the incumbent Governor. According to promotional material that was available at the “Meet and Greet,” Mead initiated an effort to reduce state rules in spring 2013. A team composed of the Secretary of State’s Office, the Governor’s Office, the Legislative Service Office, and the Attorney General’s Office was assembled to examine the rules initiative. That team is slated to report to the Legislature this fall. Mead stated that, thus far, efforts to streamline rules and regulations have proven successful.
“We have cut rules and regulations,” Mead said. “As a matter of fact, last year, I asked each agency to cut their rules an regulations by 30 percent and, when I did that, there was a sort of stunned silence with all of my cabinet members.”
The opening reached a crescendo with a rapid fire succession of impressive rankings attained by the state during the Governor’s first term. Mead asserted that these rankings coupled with a healthy economy provided a mutually beneficial climate for Wyoming and all other participants in the marketpace.
“At the same time, our economy has been growing,” Mead said. “We were ranked just recently as the state with the second fastest growing GDP of all the states in the country. We were ranked as the best state in terms of the lowest foreclosure rate. We were ranked the last two years as one of the best states to do business in. And, we were ranked this year, again, as the state with the lowest taxes. All that and a strong economy lifts all boats. It helps those that are doing well and it helps those who are struggling.”
Mead attributed the overall economic health of the state to the hard work of its citizens.
“I recognize that the economy and all that we have in Wyoming is not just due to good fortune,” Mead said. “It is due, in fact, to the hard work of the private sector. It’s men and women getting up everyday and making sure they’re doing their jobs and taking care of their families and taking care of their businesses. They are working hard and that is what makes Wyoming so strong.”
Yet, while Mead celebrated Wyoming’s economic strength, he exhorted the audience to be ready to make the same sacrifices and difficult choices that the present prosperity stipulated.
“I also recognize that we can’t accept that it’s always going to be that way,” Mead said. “We have to look at those who came before us. They worked hard and made sacrifices. They made hard decisions to keep this state strong so we can enjoy it. We have the same obligation to the next generation and the generations to come. So, it is not by luck. It is not by chance. It is by hard work and hard decisions and good leadership.”
Mead stated that, upon his assumption of the Governor’s office, he never had any intention of turning his tenure into a protracted one.
“We wanted to get in and do our job and do it as well as we could and then get out,” Mead said. “I never viewed this as a long-term career.”
Yet, the Governor contended that new challenges necessitated his pursuit of another term. Chief among the challenges cited by Mead was the continued intrusions of the federal government into the decision-making machinery of Wyoming. According to Mead, the first of many battles between the state and federal powers began only weeks after he entered office. This legal melee involved the persistent and pervasive influence of Obamacare.
Since that conflict ensued, Wyoming has filed 13 separate lawsuits against the EPA. One of those lawsuits concerns the regulatory agency’s attempt to expand the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation in excess of a million acres, thereby sizably reducing state jurisdiction. Another involves the increasingly elastic criteria of the Endangered Species Act, the protective power of which has been extended to troublesome predators like wolves.
Briefly detailing these struggles for the audience, Mead upheld the authority of Wyoming’s state government over federal agencies.
“We are a sovereign state,” Mead said. “We have primacy and we are going to work hard to enforce that.”
Touching upon a related theme, Mead articulated his commitment to the defense of private property rights.
“There are certainly challenges (to private property rights), but we’re being very aggressive in the state in trying to do that,” Mead said.
Shifting gears, Mead turned his attention towards the diversification of Wyoming’s economy. According to the Governor, technology plays an integral role in that process. Mead stated that, during his term, student access to broadband grew significantly. Additionally, promotional material provided to attendees trumpeted the administration’s successful funding and building of a Unified Network, which will bring higher speed internet access to Wyoming. The access promised by this network will be comparable to the quality available in large municipalities.
“We’ve increased broadband across the state exponentially,” Mead said.
Mead ended his opening statements with a thumbnail of Wyoming’s past, present, and future. The Governor used this overview as a springboard into the relationship between state leadership and the quality of tomorrow.
“When we see where Wyoming was, where Wyoming is, and where Wyoming could be, we know that we could have a great future,” Mead said. “But, we know we can’t rely on hope or luck. We have to have good people in office at all levels.”
Mead’s opening oration transitioned swiftly into a question and answer session. The Governor fielded questions concerning Common Core educational standards, EPA regulations, health care, highways, coal, hydraulic fracturing, and other hot-button issues.
Those who would like to learn more about the Governor’s campaign for re-election can visit http://meadforgovernor.com/.
For the complete article see the 07-23-2014 issue.
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