The term is four years with a two-term limit; compensation is $105,000. A residence is provided.
No response was received from candidate Taylor H. Hayes (R), Cheyenne for questions 1-3.
- What are your qualifications for the office you seek? (75 words)
Pete Gosar (D): I have led small and large organizations throughout my career. I am the co-owner of an aviation company that successfully navigated challenging economic conditions, been instrumental in the reorganization of a large political party as the State Chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party, and returned budget surpluses while responding to unfunded, legislative mandates as the Treasurer for the State Board of Education. Additionally, I am a board member for the Downtown Clinic.
Cindy Hill (R): Cindy Hill serves as Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. In that capacity, Hill serves as a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners, State Loan and Investment Board, the State Building Commission, and other top state boards, giving her experience in the broad range of issues of importance to Wyoming. She also serves as an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Wyoming.
Matt Mead (R): As governor I have done as I promised -- achieving economic growth, supporting local government, and standing for Wyoming in state-federal matters. I served in other public and private capacities - on the Wyoming Business Council, as a state and federal prosecutor, as U.S. Attorney, as a private practitioner and on a local bank board. I ranch and farm in Albany/Goshen Counties. I bring achievement in office, business experience and more.
- Given the thousands of people in Wyoming without medical insurance, what is your plan for providing these citizens with coverage? (100 words)
Pete Gosar (D): As the Governor of Wyoming, I would begin by providing Wyoming citizens access to healthcare by expanding Medicaid. This single action would provide access for nearly 18,000 working people in our state, while saving nearly $50 million. For those in Wyoming not eligible for Medicaid, I would work with the governors of surrounding states to create a regional health exchange marketplace to bring down the cost of health insurance in Wyoming. Finally, I would tie the creation of this health exchange to a public service campaign in an effort to make the people of Wyoming aware of their healthcare choices.
Cindy Hill (R): The League of Women Voters has asked about Wyoming people with unaddressed medical needs. The approach to this question by the current governor has not been responsible. Any civilized society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable population. As an illustration, the current governor has been cutting services to the profoundly disabled. This is unconscionable and must stop. As to Medicaid expansion, Hill does not believe that people should be thrown into categories. After better understanding the need, Hill believes that state-based solutions (rather than those of the federal government) are more restorative, cost-effective, and reliable.
Matt Mead (R): Wyoming citizens need access to affordable, high quality health care. I am working with the Department of Health and CMS to explore options for a Wyoming program to provide care for currently uninsured citizens. We need an approach tailored to the needs of Wyoming people. This past session I requested funds to pursue innovative approaches to improving quality and access to health care. This session an additional 10,000 Wyoming residents were covered by Medicaid. I requested and received funding for medical homes, for aging and disability resource centers, for immunizations and for pursuit of electronic health records.
- Explain why you do or do not support the entirety of the Next Generation Science Standards as being part of Wyoming’s K-12 educational standards? (100 words)
Pete Gosar (D): I support the Next Generation Science Standards and believe that their adoption will help Wyoming's students have access to the best science standards available. The NGSS focuses on experimentation, the scientific method and solution-based engineering, and this hands-on approach has, time and again, proven to be effective. Additionally, the NGSS contains current scientific knowledge and are superior to the decades-old, existing Wyoming standards. Finally, the NGSS were unanimously supported by the Wyoming Science Content Committee, they clearly delineate the skills and aptitudes required at each grade level and are founded upon best practices in science and education.
Cindy Hill (R): The League of Women Voters has also asked about the Next Generation Science Standards. Wyoming must have the highest standards and Wyoming has the capability of having those standards. These standards, as part of the Common Core State Standards, are not the highest or best standards for Wyoming. Wyoming can and should have better standards, created in Wyoming, that reflect Wyoming values.
Matt Mead (R): Wyoming science standards should be the best in the nation. Our children deserve a high quality science education. NGSS are an improvement over the state’s current standards, but there are many states that have adopted higher standards than NGSS. We should choose and adopt the best components of our current standards, NGSS and other state standards, and we need reliable assessments to tell us how students are handling the more rigorous content. Wyoming teachers, parents and employers should be involved in a public review of all proposed standards.
Questions 4 - 8 posed by the Cheyenne League of Women Voters.
4. The Governor is chairman of the State Loan and Investment Board and the Board of Land Commissioners. How would you weigh requests for loans and grants from local governments? What guiding principles do you bring to decisions about school trust lands?
Taylor Haynes (R): The requests will be evaluated on a need basis with Public Health and safety being the key factors. The School trust lands must be managed for the best long term return. This will ensure as much intergenerational equity as possible.
Pete Gosar (D): We all know the critical value of public infrastructure in everything from supporting our economy, to securing a quality education for our children, to ensuring a healthy environment. Most of that infrastructure is delivered at the local government level. I support both the grant programs to assist local governments in meeting their infrastructure needs, and particularly the loan programs, where the impacts of development and growth must be planned for before that growth starts generating income. Local community investment should be prioritized by the principles of return on investment and realistic assessments of the future. Investments clearly serving the broad interests of our shareholders - the people of Wyoming - would go to the top of my list. Investments serving narrower interests will be carefully reviewed for their potential contribution to the general welfare of our communities. The State Land Board reports characterize school trust lands as, “held in trust and managed for the exclusive intergenerational benefit of Wyoming public schools and other designated beneficiaries.” While state lands must be managed primarily for the benefit of public schools, we have long recognized the contribution of these lands to the sustainability of many Wyoming assets. I support a multiple-use, sustainability approach to decisions about the school trust lands. We owe it to future generations to preserve the value of these lands, and we should recognize that “value” comes in many forms. We need to balance “revenue enhancement” and “resource stewardship”.
5. The Governor starts the biennial budget process and sets priorities for the Legislature. What are your budgetary priorities for saving versus spending, including the Legislature’s “rainy day fund?” How about support for local government?
Taylor Haynes (R): The budget must be balanced between saving and present day need. The rainy day fund is a great idea. However we must look at the pace at which it accumulates funds compared to the dire need in some communities. I would like to see some adjustment by the legislature to address present day needs.
Pete Gosar (D): For nearly 50 years, the state has been squirreling money away against the day when we would run out. Legislators used to refer to the “coffee cans” of money hidden in obscure corners of the budget and within various agencies. My first priority with respect to these funds would be a full and transparent inventory of all quantities and locations. Next, we need a coherent vision of what a “rainy day” looks like. We should assess each year’s budget based on the conditions of the time, but we also need to apply some strategic planning now, when it isn’t raining, to provide guidelines for more difficult discussions when it is. The rainy day accounts are to even out the state’s cash flow, and for this use, it makes sense to keep the money in liquid assets. If they are not used this way, I think we have some serious answering to do to the taxpayers - “Why are we collecting this money if it is not needed to provide government services?” “If we’re going to hold onto for the long-term, why aren’t we investing to get a respectable return?” As for the boom-and-bust cycles to which our economy has been subject for my whole life, the better answers are economic diversification, taxation policies aimed at sustainability, investment in education and infrastructure. We need to look carefully at investment in local communities since that may be the best way to put that money to work.
6. Wyoming – like all states – must work with federal agencies that regulate and create obligations for the state, as well as support state projects (such as highways). Could you work effectively with those agencies?
Taylor H. Haynes (R) We will work very effectively with all agencies involved.
Pete Gosar (D): Of course we have our differences and we in Wyoming think we have a lot to offer the feds. But ultimately these levels of governments are all ours and if we taxpayers want our funds to be used efficiently then we have to communicate and find a way to cooperate. As the chief executive of Wyoming, there is a delicate balance that must be struck between negotiation and litigation. The ultimate goal of every decision must be to maximize returns for our state, and I would use all tools to accomplish that goal. My administration would first look to find sources of common ground and find solutions for the obligations and opportunities provided by the federal agencies. Although, I would not remove litigation as a negotiating tool; I would not enter into it wantonly. Every negotiating tactic used by the governor must be weighed publicly against a cost-to-benefit analysis. As a public servant, the governor must be a good steward of the public's money, and relatively few litigated settlements can compare financially with negotiated agreements.
7. Do you favor taking on management of federal land in Wyoming? If so, how would we pay for that? If not, how could we work better with the federal land managers?
Taylor H. Haynes (R) I certainly favor taking over management of all Wyoming lands due the State at Statehood. The vast mineral wealth locked up at the present time will more than make up for the dribble of federal funding we get. This has been accomplished by most other States Hawaii in 1959 the most recent. I am in communication with legislators from neighboring states who wish to join forces in this effort.
Pete Gosar (D): I do not favor taking over management of federal lands in Wyoming and as a hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman, I am concerned about the ultimate loss of public lands. There is a much more useful and pragmatic approach that has already proved successful in Wyoming, and it should be used more frequently. The sage grouse core area strategy is an example of this solution-based approach and it offers great promise. By gathering stakeholders, looking for common ground, and negotiating contentious issues, the sage grouse working group was able to craft a uniquely Wyoming solution that currently serves as a model for sage grouse negotiations throughout the West. Negotiated solutions are ultimately more effective and lasting and my administration would adopt this strategy widely. We would employ it to craft solutions for the people of our state; whether working with federal land managers or addressing other difficult issues in Wyoming.
8. The Legislature can have quite a bit of influence over the other two branches of government through writing laws and setting budgets. Where should the Legislature draw the line to avoid infringing on the other two branches? Should the governor help the Legislature fine that line (especially concerning the executive branch?
Taylor H. Haynes (R) The Governor as the head of the executive branch must use the U.S. and Wyoming Constitutions to draw the line between all three branches of our State government.
Pete Gosar (D): I am perfectly aware that the Wyoming Legislature is the source of all legislation in the State of Wyoming. These 90 individuals have been fairly elected by their respective constituents, from districts that democratically apportion the citizens’ votes. Of course there is a balance between the broad direction established by the legislature and the day-to-day decisions by the executive in implementing the statutes; and of course it is a critical responsibility of the Governor to help the Legislature find the right balance. Our founders’ deliberately built a lot of tension into the process of government: two houses in the Legislature, the Governor’s veto authority, and, in Wyoming, the election of not one executive branch head, but five. It is the challenge and the responsibility of every person elected to public office to make that a creative tension rather than a destructive tension.
The lines between the functions of government are not always bright, but I think the responsibility of all elected officials, appointed agency heads, and public employees, is clear. We’re here to serve the best interests of the people of Wyoming. In my opinion, that means working to ensure the health of all our citizens, the fair treatment of our workers - men and women, the education of our students, and equality and opportunity for all.