GREEN RIVER– Republican candidate for Wyoming governor Sam Galeotos discussed several of what he believes to be key issues in the state with residents of Green River Wednesday evening at the Green River Rec Center.
Galeotos is one of eight candidates for governor. Others include Republicans Bill Dahlin, Foster Freiss, Mark Gordon, Harriet Hageman, Taylor Haynes, Rex Rammell and Democrat Mary Throne.
Galeotos discussed issues such as the state’s deficit, economic growth, technology, education, and public lands.
Billion Dollar Deficit
One of Galeotos’ primary concerns for the state of Wyoming is the near billion dollar deficit the state is facing. He said the deficit keeps getting more severe with every budget cycle, and that the state needs to be more aggressive in fixing this.
He went on to say it impacts educational funding, and is cascading all over the state. He said the state needs a plan and needs to act now before Wyoming reaches “the point of no return,” he said.
If Wyoming reaches that point, he said the state has to start making drastic cuts, and this results in mistakes.
He commended the Wyoming legislature for having an efficiency study done last year to identify $200 million of potential cost savings. He said that the state now faces the task of figuring out what they want to cut spending on out of the identified potential savings.
He believes it is important to keep Wyoming income tax free, and therefore the state needs to watch its spending and work on growing the economy.
Play to Our Strengths
With 70% of the state’s revenue coming from minerals, and the next two biggest industries being travel and tourism and agriculture, he said the state could be producing more if there was “less bureaucratic red tape”.
He said the state needs to “play to our strengths” and “shorten up our weaknesses,” being that Wyoming does not have many other industries. If Wyoming’s youth wants to stay here for work or come back after leaving for a while, he said they currently have to either take a cut in livelihood, or change careers.
He believes the best plan is to play to the state’s strength in the short term, and work on building other industries and empowering local communities for the long term.
The state has a presence in manufacturing and technology, but needs to look at these two industries further and develop around them. He said the state needs to leverage these industries into long-term sustainable opportunities.
“Technology is in everything,” Galeotos said. “It is the great equalizer in our world right now.”
Wyoming has a population of about 580,000 people, and there are only about 93,000 kids in the K-12 program. Galeotos believes that Wyoming has demonstrated a willingness to invest in education. With the small number of kids, and the money the state has invested, Galeotos believes Wyoming should lead the U.S. in education.
“We should be the number one education model in the nation,” Galeotos said.
He pointed out that the state currently argues about the money in education. One side of the argument believes the state is not seeing the results for the amount of money invested in education. The other side believes the state is not funding education enough, or should not cut funding.
Rather than taking a side, Galeotos wants to find a solution and define the outcome.
“Learning is between a teacher and a kid,” he said. “Everything else that goes on around that is secondary.”
Galeotos said it is not likely that Wyoming will seize federal lands, but that he believes local control is always better. He would like to come to an agreement with the federal government and find a model that would allow local control over Wyoming’s lands.
He said the issue of the state selling lands to private owners needs to be addressed because he does not want that.