GREEN RIVER– Candidate for Wyoming governor Mary Throne discussed issues such as education, the state’s revenue, and public lands at a meet and greet at Get Real Coffee in Green River on Friday.
Throne is currently the only Democrat who has announced her bid for governor. She is a former Wyoming representative.
Republicans who plan to run for governor include Bill Dahlin, Sam Galetos, Mark Gordon, Harriet Hageman, Taylor Haynes, Rex Rammell, and Foster Friess, who announced his campaign Friday night.
Throne visited Sweetwater County as part of her campaign. She talked to residents in Rock Springs on Thursday, and toured the Genesis-Alkali trona mine on Friday. She also visited Western Wyoming Community College for their Military Appreciation Days event on Friday.
While visiting with Green River residents and members of the Bridger Valley community at Get Real Coffee, a lot of emphasis was put on education.
One of Throne’s top reasons for running for governor is education. She said it is a “frustrating issue” because the Wyoming legislators want to cut education funding, claiming the state is not getting its “bang for the buck”.
Throne said for the past two years, legislators have been pushing the “false narrative” that the state is spending a lot of money on education but is not seeing results.
“Now we have to go out and dispel that notion,” Throne said. She said Education Week has ranked Wyoming schools as seventh in the nation, and that the state’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores are among the best in the nation.
Throne said that the state is taking steps in diversifying the economy, but legislators in Cheyenne are still waiting for the oil prices to rise again. She said that the state can’t rely on on this happening.
Green River Mayor Pete Rust said he believes spending money on our kids’ education is one of, if not the most important thing, to spend money on. He said it is not a matter of there being no funding for education, but rather “not making education a priority.”
In order to bring people into the state, Wyoming needs to invest in education so families and businesses will want to come here, she said.
“We don’t reinvest back into the community,” Throne stated, adding that the state exports coal, oil, and trona. She believes education is key in the state’s economic development.
With the drop in oil prices and the closure of coal plants, Throne said Wyoming cannot base its future on revenue from these industries.
Coal plants are being replaced by wind plants, and the community members said the wind industry will not leave the state with permanent jobs.
Mayor Rust said the state and the communities should continue to work on diversifying the economy, but while keeping reality in mind. He said it is “naive” to think thousands of oil and coal jobs will come back, and that the community needs to “be okay with it.”
Throne said the state cannot expect things like oil, coal, and natural gas to “continue to take care of us.”
“Coal, oil, and natural gas are all facing market conditions in which we have no control over. We’re part of the global economy,” she said.
Throne said the state needs to look at other areas for economic development.
“It’s going to take a lot of little stuff all over the state,” she said. She added that the the state and local governments need to take a “collaborative approach” to help bring revenue to the communities.
Throne also said that Wyoming’s low tax structure has not solved the state’s economic issues.
The community members said they would not mind paying more in taxes if it meant funding what they think the state needs.
The community members in attendance also discussed their concerns over public lands, particularly the proposal to lease lands on the Greater Little Mountain Area for oil and gas development.
Throne said the next governor has to be willing to stand up for Wyoming, and that it is not a good idea to transfer public lands to the state, and that is is “something we cannot let happen.”
Residents added that the federal lands do not belong to the people of Wyoming, but instead belong to country.
Throne said the state needs to be active in discussions with organizations like the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service, and “address legitimate concerns” involving grazing, recreation, and oil and gas permits.
For More Information
For more information on Mary Throne’s run for Wyoming governor, people can visit www.maryforwyoming.com.