CHEYENNE – Gov.-elect Mark Gordon said Wednesday a major focus in his first year on the job would be putting Wyoming on a fiscally sustainable path and looking for ways to encourage economic diversification.
And he aims to tap a former primary opponent to help lead an effort on improving the state’s technological infrastructure.
Gordon said during a teleconference Wednesday he has asked Cheyenne businessman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Galeotos to lead an analysis of technological needs at both the state and local levels. That effort will be part of the overall work to streamline government bureaucracy and improve operations.
“I’ve asked Sam Galeotos to help organize an effort to look at our entire technology platform,” Gordon said. “What the state needs to do with its technology. Because that’s going to be so critical, not only for our government agencies, but as we build out to the communities, our broadband initiative … And also just being able to anticipate and react to what is an incredible change in technology.”
Gordon said he hadn’t met in person with Galeotos yet, but his former opponent had agreed to take on the effort.
The focus for Galeotos on technology is just one piece of Gordon’s plan to find ways to streamline state bureaucracy and find ways to encourage economic development. He said one of his first moves in office will be to meet with state agency heads and look for ways to find efficiencies, both in operations and how the state works with businesses looking to operate in Wyoming.
“My experience in the treasurer’s office is if a new company wants to come in and avail themselves of a state program or something else, they would have to go to maybe three or four or five different agencies,” Gordon said. “(I want to find out) how can we make it easier and more efficient for people to do business in the state.”
Gordon maintained his stance that he doesn’t believe Wyoming needs to re-examine its tax structure. Instead, state government should find ways to operate at a more sustainable level. He said if the state Legislature took up changing the tax structure, he would consider it, but he doesn’t believe that is the answer to improving the state’s fiscal outlook.
“I want to make sure Wyoming is a low-tax and business-friendly state going forward. And finding that fiscal stability is going to be absolutely critical,” Gordon said.
“If the Legislature does come up with something, I will certainly look at it. But, again, I think there’s a lot we can do before we start talking about raising taxes.”
With the state’s finances in a better place than predictions earlier this year, Gordon said Wyoming needs to act now to ensure it isn’t dealing with budgetary issues while also faced with budget shortfalls. He wants to align the state’s priorities with its spending, and through that process, find ways to improve Wyoming’s fiscal outlook.
“I think having a more robust revenue picture is not a time to say, ‘Oh boy, our times are great, we don’t have to worry about anything.’ I think it is a time when you say, ‘How do we set some really solid policies?’” Gordon said. “(I want to talk about) how do we make Wyoming a more fiscally stable state going forward.”
While several Western states voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid, Gordon said he wasn’t convinced it was the right move for Wyoming, especially given the size of the state’s population. Instead, he wants to focus on state-based initiatives to help close the gap of uninsured people in the state.
Gordon said while Wyoming needs to help expand medical coverage, Medicaid expansion posed too great a risk for ballooning the state’s expenses leading to cuts to other critical areas. Instead he wants to create solutions on a state level, and also work with the state’s federal delegation to fix what he said are issues in the Affordable Care Act.
“We have some unique opportunities I’d like to pursue that are more state-oriented, less federal government, and really see if we can address many of those issues the same way,” Gordon said.
“Working with the Legislature, can we find a good, workable solution for Wyoming that addresses those issues, brings our cost down, makes our costs more transparent and makes us more market-friendly environment for insurance?”
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