Wyoming House District 29 candidates talk state budget and revenue | State
SHERIDAN — Three candidates — Republicans Gary Miller and Ken Pendergraft and Democrat Martha Wright — are seeking to become Sheridan’s new lawmaker, representing the 29th House District.
The Sheridan Press asked each candidate the same question: What do you see as the future of the state budget? How would you balance the needs of the state with the resources you have?
The two Republican candidates for the district expressed concerns that the state and federal governments were being overgrown and intrusive, particularly in terms of federal regulations, but offered separate solutions to balance Wyoming’s budget despite declining fossil fuel revenues. Wright, meanwhile, said federal financing options could be a boon for Wyoming residents and businesses.
Miller said his experience leading his own financial firm, Frontier Asset Management, and serving on the board of directors of Sheridan Memorial Hospital for more than a decade would bring him to approach the leadership of the government of the ‘state with an entrepreneurial spirit.
As a result, Miller said he would seek alternative revenue streams generated by other energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear power. Miller said income from gambling and sales of cannabis products could also increase Wyoming’s tax revenue, but the candidate said he’d like to know more about those two possibilities before pushing them.
Meanwhile, Miller said he would review the hundreds of line items in the state budget as a lawmaker and determine the potential for cutting government overspending.
“Wyoming people aren’t looking for some kind of free lunch. They just just want,” Miller said.
Ultimately, Miller argued that Wyoming had time to experiment with alternative revenue streams and reduce overspending areas, and that it could help find creative solutions to the challenge.
Pendergraft, who also ran for House District 29 in 2020, took a different approach. First, he said, oil, gas and coal are here to stay; wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are still in their infancy and won’t be taking over any time soon.
“The idea that we don’t need oil, gas and coal is just madness,” Pendergraft said.
Second, according to Pendergraft, there is no need to recover lost mining revenue.
“We don’t need to replace that money…” Pendergraft said. “The Wyoming government is way too big.”
Instead of looking for additional sources of revenue, Pendergraft explained that state government should shrink as revenue declines, performing only the functions enshrined in the Wyoming Constitution and eliminating the rest. For example, the legislature’s responsibility to establish public schools is included in Title 7 of the Wyoming Constitution, but Pendergraft said the state could reduce the costs of public education by spending less on school administrators. .
Similarly, Pendergraft argued that the state should not accept federal funds to add electric vehicle charging stations. When oil companies started setting up gas stations, Pendergraft said, no federal funding was involved. The same should apply to charging electric vehicles; government spending on such a thing is superfluous, he said.
Wright, meanwhile, took a different approach to the budget issue, saying accepting federal funding could improve the lives of Wyoming residents.
Wright is new to the political process. In early May, running for public office was the furthest thing from her mind, Wright said, but she became a candidate after attending the Democratic state convention in Rock Springs.
“I realized that if I didn’t [run]the audience hears a voice, a story…I wanted to be that alternative voice,” Wright said.
Wright said it was appropriate for state and federal governments to invest in electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure, and one of his priorities would be to pass the expansion of Medicaid, thereby increasing funding for care. health by the federal government. There are federal funding options available to support Wyoming residents and businesses, including the state’s tourism industry.
Margaret O’Hara is a reporter for The Sheridan Press.