In his State of the State address Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming is in a strong position. He said the State should remain fiscally conservative while making important investments. In the address, which Governor Mead made before a Joint Session of the Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives, he expressed optimism about the State's future.
"We have small businesses that are thriving, teachers that are innovating, community colleges and a university that continue to advance. We have a citizenry that while small in numbers is big in spirit and accomplishment. Hard-working citizens in every sector make our state strong," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead did sound a note of caution and said continued fiscal restraint is necessary. He noted that natural gas prices have declined, decreasing the revenue for Wyoming. "National and global uncertainties and energy price fluctuations require us to redouble our efforts to keep the economic recovery going and growing in Wyoming. Jobs and the economy must remain top priorities," Governor Mead said. He added that he has proposed a budget that slows the growth in government and does not include deep across-the-board cuts.
Much of Governor Mead's address focused on the budget for the next two years. He said it is necessary to continue to invest in Wyoming. He is proposing $100 million for highways and $168 million for cities, towns and counties. "Our communities are a source of great pride, and we want them to have what they need to compete and to prosper.
After all, it's on Main Street where businesses grow and jobs are created, not in the Capitol building," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead mentioned technology and data centers as opportunities for economic growth. He supports another $15 million for infrastructure to support large data centers or tech companies. He also said Wyoming must continue to look for public-private partnerships to increase access to high speed broadband for citizens everywhere. Governor Mead supports consolidating information technology (IT) services in one agency in state government and said that Senate File 33 will move such consolidation forward.
Education was another emphasis of Governor Mead's State of the State. "In Wyoming we are blessed with wonderful natural resources. It is our people, however, that secure our future. We know every child is a blessing and the well-being of our children determines the well-being of our state. Providing the best education in a safe environment goes a long way to expanding our children's horizons," Governor Mead said. He called on the Legislature to provide direction to educators that is clear and pushed for Wyoming standards that set a high bar for students.
"For Wyoming to continue to be strong we must ask, "What are those things that have made us strong and what must we do to nurture those areas?'" Governor Mead said. He stressed the importance of Wyoming's energy, agriculture and tourism industries as well as the State's small businesses.
This session Governor Mead said it is important to pass funding to support tourism, put money into the Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund and approve changes to Wyoming's wolf management plan so the State has the opportunity to take over management of wolves. For the energy industry, Governor Mead said he supports additional funding for the University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources, enhanced oil recovery and a move to allow Wyoming rather than the federal government to regulate greenhouse gases. "We want our mining and oil and gas industry to remain strong. To keep the energy sector strong, we must seek to ensure longevity for those industries and maximize the benefit of production. We should encourage value-added projects that in addition to adding value give us new technologies, new efficiencies, and cleaner uses of our raw products."
Governor Mead thanked those serving in the military and thanked the Wyoming National Guard and all the people who worked proactively to mitigate the damages during last year's flooding. He also pointed out that in 2011, thanks to the work of many, Wyoming was named the best run state in the nation. "We must make certain that Wyoming's legacy does not only have the title of the best managed state but that every child, every family and every business is managing the best, doing the best. Working together I know Wyoming can continue to be the best in title and in reality."