SHERIDAN — State Treasurer Mark Gordon visited Sheridan Tuesday night and laid out his platform campaign for governor.
Gordon’s platform highlights three priorities for the state. The first is reducing the size of the state government so that it will “live within its means.” The second priority is to reduce government regulations to attract new businesses to the state and the third is ensuring the state has a strong education system.
Reducing the size of government
Debates over the size of the state government took center stage during the recent legislative budget session. Gordon said he would have liked to have seen more progress on scaling back the size of government in the budget. Determining where to cut, Gordon said, will require the state to determine which government agencies and services are essential. The state, then, could look to scale back nonessential sections of its government.
“There are some efficiencies you can come to, some technological fixes, but those are on the margin and are not going to completely solve the problem,” Gordon said. “What I think is, is the ability to help to set priorities: what are the things we absolutely need to have versus what are the things that are nice to have?”
Gordon said he is hopeful about the ENDOW initiative but noted that Wyoming has made similar efforts throughout its history.
“Every administration there has been an effort to diversify Wyoming’s economy,” Gordon said. “In some of the conversations that were going on when they were discussing the [state] constitution, they were very worried about diversifying the economy — in 1888, 1889, 1890. So it’s been a theme through the ages.”
More recently, he pointed to the Wyoming Futures Initiative the state undertook in the 1980s. Gordon said while the recommendations that initiative forwarded were not adopted, it facilitated important discussions about the future of the state economy.
“The crowning achievement of ENDOW is going to be making sure we have conversations about what our future is going to look like,” Gordon said.
To develop the state’s economy, Gordon said he is primarily concerned with reducing regulations to make the state more business friendly. Doing that, he stressed, would largely depend on how successful the state is in reducing its government to a sustainable size.
“If people look at Wyoming’s budget today… they see it did not get solved this year, it may not be sustainable, they’re going to say ‘how long is that going to last?’” Gordon said. “For the future of Wyoming, that’s what’s critical, is making sure we have a solid basis that looking forward people can say ‘I see they have a path forward that guarantees I’m going to have a low-tax structure and a reliable governmental platform on which to build my business.’ Then you get diversification and then you have an economy that can resist; you’re always going to have booms and busts, that’s commodities, but [a durable economy can] resist the worst of the worst.”
He also stressed that there are significant opportunities presented by emerging technolgies in Wyoming’s more traditional economic sectors, like energy and agriculture. In the energy sector, for instance, Gordon highlighted opportunities carbon fiber technologies can offer. The proposed Ramaco facility in Sheridan County would focus largely on working with carbon fiber, and Gordon said the University of Wyoming is also researching uses for carbon fiber.
When it comes to education, Gordon said he believes the state needs to consider education on a district-by-district basis. During the recent budget session, Gordon said he thought the Legislature struggled to agree on education funding because it tried to advance “one-size-fits all” cuts to education spending.
“I was on the school board in Johnson County and I can tell you the way we would look at trying to structure that budget would be different than you would see at the statewide level,” Gordon said.
He added, in some cases, the state should consider consolidating school districts going forward.
To increase the amount of money the state puts toward education, Gordon said he would push the state to set aside a piece of the mineral trust fund for education funding.