CHEYENNE –– Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon reflected on a turbulent year and outlined priorities in his 2021 State of the State address Tuesday.
The virtual address was delivered in the historic State Supreme Court Chamber in Cheyenne via Wyoming PBS and simulcast through Wyoming Public Radio (WPR). His address began with reading the first Articles of the Wyoming Constitution, emphasizing the legacy of equality upon which the state was established.
In response to recent federal restrictions, Gordon passionately addressed the moratorium on oil and gas leasing. Standing resolute in his determination to maintain fossil fuels as an energy option, Gov. Gordon also called for measures to pair them with responsible usage and environmental stewardship. Gordon called for wind and solar providers to invest in Wyoming and bring more long-term jobs.
“As governor my position remains clear and firm,” said Gordon. “I’ll continue to fight for our state’s future and defend the right to responsibly develop all of our resources.”
Gov. Gordon acknowledged what he called “the biggest elephant in the Capitol this year,” funding Wyoming’s K-12 education system. As funding from natural resources has begun to dwindle, Gordon called for innovative solutions amongst all “stakeholders” in the state. Per the recommendations of a task force he convened last year, Gordon plugged HB 63 to establish leadership and reorganization in the early childhood education system. Gordon called the adequate preparation of students “a moral obligation.”
The governor spoke about the efforts made with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to shine a light on an ongoing crisis affecting indigenous people. Last year, two bills were passed to support and address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous persons, and a statewide report was released to shine a light on the disproportionate issues facing residents of the Wind River Reservation.
“This report, the first in the nation, provides local data and perspectives directly from indigenous families impacted by violence,” said Gordon. “It provides evidence to what tribes have known, Native American Wyomingites are subjected to higher rates of violence and face obstacles when reporting violence. We will continue working on recommendations contained in the report.”
Gordon thanked health-care providers and applauded the efforts of vaccination. While he was able to cite many ways in which Wyoming was ahead of the pack in COVID related impact, Gordon reflected solemnly on the per capita death toll and reinforced the importance of life-saving vaccines. “It’s our best and fastest way to eliminate and eradicate this virus and get back to our normal ways,” said Gordon.
The governor emphasized the role of individuals, businesses and state government in the return to normalcy. Gordon warned against partisan politics, setting the expectation to utilize the current session to increase progress towards the ultimate goal.
“We’re only going to have one chance to turn this welcome spring into a thriving summer and a bountiful future,” said Gordon.
Regarding the proposed budget, Gordon recommended a simple and transparent approach. He also advocated for fiscal temperance, stating that it’s “the tradition of Wyoming people, to build for the future and not just take for today.”
The address in its entirety can be found here.