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Legislative Report: State Of The State [AUDIO]

The Legislative Report from Amy Richards in Cheyenne: Gov. Matt Mead delivered his first State of the State speech to a joint session of the Wyoming Legislature Wednesday.

Gov. Mead called on lawmakers to make a long-term commitment to funding local governments and state highways.

Gov. Matt Mead:

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“Specifically, I support diverting one half, one half of one percent of the statutory severance tax on minerals and splitting it into thirds: one third to local governments, one third to highways, and one third to the state’s rainy day fund. This is money that will not only be used to invest in infrastructure, not only to invest in our localities, but also to invest in savings.”

Leaders in both the House and Senate said they agreed with some of the governor’s proposals but disagreed with others. Senate President Jim Anderson says he agreed with the governor on economic development issues.

Sen. Jim Anderson:

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“I think we’re consistent in terms of what we see as being responsible development of wind, and responsible taxation, as well. Encar, data centers, I agree that these are significant issues in regard to the development of Wyoming as we diversify our economy and try to find new jobs.”

Sen. Anderson says he has concerns about the governor’s stand on school capital construction and Mead’s proposal to divert severance tax money for local governments and highways.

Ed Buchanan, speaker of the House, agrees that the governor’s proposal for highways and local government funding will be hotly debated this session.

Rep. Ed Buchanan:

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“And it’s just gonna be a matter of determining a couple of local things. Number one, how much resources to allocate to highways and local governments just in one shot in a supplemental budget. And then on the other hand you’ve got this question that’s out there regarding perhaps developing an additional ongoing consistent stream of revenue to local governments, in addition to what we already have.”

Senate Minority Whip Sen. Marty Martin says he agrees the Legislature needs to establish a secure funding stream for local governments.

Sen. Marty Martin:

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“As the debate plays out on that issue, it’ll be interesting to see if we’re able to come to an agreement and ensure that our local governments are funded at a level that allows them to develop infrastructure, that allows them to make it a place where people will use that infrastructure, and people will look to Wyoming to move businesses.”

House Minority Whip Rep. Mary Throne says she does not support Gov. Mead’s decision to join a lawsuit against the federal government for health care reform. She also opposes creating a litigation fund of $2 million dollars.

Rep. Mary Throne:

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“I am not as wedded to litigation as the governor. I do not like the idea of putting 2 million dollars in a litigation fund. That does not get money to the people who need health care. And I really want to take a close look at that bill. That’s a lot of money on litigation, before we even know what we need to litigate.”

With the Legislative Report, Amy Richards for K2 Radio news.

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