(Gillette, Wyo.) Governor Matt Mead gave his eighth and final State of the State Address this morning to kick off the 64th State of Wyoming Legislature Budget Session.
After thanking all the dignitaries present for his speech before the joint session, Mead related some teasing he endured in recent days from Speaker of the House Rep. Steven Harshman (R-Natrona) and President of the Senate Eli Bebout (R-Fremont). “It’s too bad it takes about eight years to train a governor and just when you get them trained they leave,” said Mead.
In his speech today Mead referenced other Governor’s addresses throughout history with somewhat a nostalgic tone for his final State of the State Address.
“When I hand the keys to the governor’s office to someone else in Jan 2019, I’ll leave the premises with gratitude to the voters who gave me the opportunity to serve, with admiration for the legislative, judicial and executive branches employees who serve the state so well, and with knowledge that I leave the framework for important work to continue,” offered Mead
The governor also looked back on some of his accomplishments since taking office in 2011.
Among those accomplishments, the governor recounted the successes of the Safe to Tell Wyoming program that was approved by the state legislature in 2016, approval of the Enzi Stem Center at UW and the Integrated Test Center outside Gillette that is now awaiting tenants from the XPrize Competition.
“This cutting edge facility in Gillette makes Wyoming the leader in advanced coal technologies, allowing Wyoming to be a continued leader not only in coal production, but in coal technology,” Mead explained to the joint session.
Mead thanked the legislators gathered who planned and worked through many of the state’s important projects.
“However, as we’ve invested in these projects, we must adjust to the times of constrained revenue, recognizing we cannot continue to build at the same rate. And must now focus on maintaining what we have built.” The governor explained, “My budget calls for more dollars for major maintenance, recognizing deferred maintenance is in fact deficit spending.“
Mead went on to explain there have been reductions in four of Wyoming’s last eight budgets. The state has weathered a number of booms and bust throughout history and the governor recognized, “It’s the citizens of Wyoming that kept us strong.”
“The standard budget is below where it was ten years ago, that’s healthy. But for some agencies it is below where it should be,” said Mead. “Some agency programs can’t achieve their intended purposes.”
Mead encouraged the gathered body to take the opportunity this session to bring the budget back into alignment. The governor’s recommendations include $105 million for local governments, $200,000 more for senior centers and $2.2 million to strengthen cyber security. Mead’s suggestions also include paying off the capital renovation project, restoring funds cut from the livestock board and funds to continue the state fair.
Governor Mead held back emotions as he thanked his family for standing by him through his tenure as governor. His children Mary and Pete were just ten and twelve when he first took office. In conclusion, Mead thanked the people of Wyoming for the privilege of serving them.
“Wyoming has always been a land of discovery, beautiful to the eye, and populated by intrepid individuals of character and determination,” said Governor Mead. “Wyoming is like no other place on earth and those of us who call Wyoming home know this. We’re so fortunate to live here.”