Governor Mark Gordon emphasized his commitment to Wyoming’s energy economy and its fiscal health in his 2021 State of the State address. He asked the Legislature to think carefully about the balanced budget he presented to them and to position Wyoming for the future when addressing K-12 education funding.
“We’re entering more frugal times and we will have to continue to temper wants and emphasize needs,” Governor Gordon said. “Success will require action from individuals, businesses and our state government. That’s what I believe this session is all about.”
“What we do today can mean that the Wyoming we love remains. These next few years will be pivotal for Wyoming. And I intend to do my best to make sure our citizens are confident in their future.”
In his speech the Governor highlighted Wyoming’s resilience and the state’s continued economic improvement from the pandemic and the subsequent crash in energy prices. He also spoke of the importance of Wyoming’s tourism industry, his support for the state’s agriculture sector and efforts to encourage economic diversification.
Governor Gordon emphasized the need for the state to retain a “broad energy portfolio” that includes both fossil fuels and renewables. He called for a consistent and clear policy for future wind and solar development to ensure Wyoming reaps the economic benefits from expansion of those industries.
“Wyoming can and must be a leader in (carbon capture) and other emerging technologies, even as we pursue the development of resources such as wind and solar,” he said. “Our long history of working with coal, oil and natural gas, and regulating its related impacts to protect and enhance other natural resources, such as wildlife, is well established. Wind and solar development must be held to the same standards.”
The Governor also reiterated his commitment to protecting Wyoming’s industries, which have included leading 16 other Republican governors in pushing back against the Biden administration’s oil and gas orders.
“As Governor, my position remains clear and firm. I will continue to fight for our state’s future, and defend the right to responsibly develop all of our resources,” the Governor said
Governor Gordon also highlighted his goals to expand his higher education initiative, the Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN). A collaboration between the state’s community colleges and the University of Wyoming, WIN “will develop education initiatives necessary to strengthen the states workforce, promote entrepreneurship, and actively support economic growth and diversification.”
“Education is changing. Work is changing. People want and need more opportunities and approaches,” the Governor said. “Wyoming needs to respond.” He also expressed his desire to reform the state’s early childhood education system.
Finally, the Governor challenged the Legislature to examine the state’s K-12 funding model that is no longer sustainable.
“This is far more than a budget issue,” he said of education funding. “I want our stakeholders and our communities to be involved in establishing a plan and vision.”
The recorded speech can be viewed here. A copy of the Governor’s prepared comments may be found here.