Governor Matt Mead

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says a dip in energy revenues will require the state to cut up to 200 million dollars from its existing budget. 

The governor has instituted a hiring freeze and will be looking to every agency to return unspent money. Mead would like to avoid layoffs.

“I do not think that this is an area I will be looking at. I think we can get roughly 18 million dollars by not filling vacant positions and with a hiring freeze.” 

Mead said citizens will accept some reduction in services, but added that the state will likely need to dip into savings.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

After holding a number of meetings to gather public input on an energy strategy for Wyoming, the Governor’s office is now asking people to vote on how to move forward.

The Governor released his first energy strategy in 2013. The administration says it has completed most of the initiatives identified in that document, which is why it’s now looking at a new set.

Office of the Governor

People in Wyoming are passionate about wildlife. Just say the word “wolf” in mixed company and see what happens. And it’s the state’s long history of negotiating with the federal government over endangered species like the sage grouse and the grizzly that has prompted Governor Matt Mead this month to announce an initiative to reform the 42-year-old Endangered Species Act. I asked him, what made him decide now was the time for this.

Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says it’s time for the state to dip into its rainy day funds to get through some lean economic times. 

Falling oil and gas prices and declining coal revenues are reducing state revenues. He says the state will need to use some of the nearly two billion dollars in savings to get through the next two year budget cycle. While the state can reduce spending, Mead says there are still a lot of needs such as funding for local governments.

Office of the Governor

Energy has always been an important topic in Wyoming, but it’s increasingly becoming an important global conversation, especially in the context of climate change. Wyoming, as the second-largest energy producing state in the nation, is central to that conversation. Decisions made today will likely affect the state and the country for years and decades to come. In an interview with Wyoming Public Radio’s energy reporter Stephanie Joyce, Governor Matt Mead started by saying he thinks it’s time to move past the debate about climate change.

Office of the Governor

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the state will draft a plan to comply with new federal regulations for carbon emissions from power plants.

The Obama administration released the final version of its Clean Power Plan last week. It requires Wyoming to reduce its carbon emissions more than 40 percent by 2030.

Governor Mead announced the state’s new official poet Thursday.  He gave the honor of poet laureate to Rose Hill of Sheridan, a local business owner and long-time writer.

Mead said Hill was chosen for the position because her poetry was “beautiful and eloquent and something I couldn’t do.”  At a ceremony, he signed an executive order naming Hill and afterward, she read a sample of her work. Hill is Wyoming’s seventh poet laureate.

Governor Matt Mead is turning to the Wyoming Humanities Council to facilitate more productive discussion on a refugee resettlement program in the state.

Wyoming is the only state without a resettlement program, and the Governor says misinformation is slowing down progress on the issue.

Wyoming Humanities Council Executive Director Shannon Smith says her group will send experts around the state to lead public discussions about refugee resettlement. 

Governor Matt Mead is creating a task force that is intended to gather information on the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana in Wyoming. 

The governor says he continues to oppose any legalization of the drug. But he says he wants to get ahead of a possible 2016 general election ballot initiative that could ask voters to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana. 

Governor Matt Mead and other state officials are spending the summer watching energy prices as they make plans for a new budget next year. 

The governor says his priorities range from local government to health care. Mead expects that projected revenue may be down for the next two years, but he doesn't want budget cuts.          

"To cut another six percent as we did before I think would be very difficult, I think just not hiring people to fill jobs would be difficult and even together it may not make up the difference."

Stephanie Joyce

Citing recent decisions by financial companies like Bank of America to withdraw funding from coal operations, Governor Matt Mead says Wyoming needs to innovate in order to stay an energy leader.

During his keynote address at the Wyoming Business Report's Energy Summit, Mead said that he has and will continue to fight against federal regulations, but added that more will be needed.  

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services has unveiled a new program intended to bring former residents back to the state to live and work. Called Wyoming Grown, it allows family members or friends of someone living out of state to refer them the Department of Workforce Services, who will attempt to recruit them back to Wyoming to fill a job. 

Department Of Wildlife

It’s been five years since Governor Matt Mead signed an executive order giving special protections to the state’s greater sage grouse populations. Now that order says it’s time to re-evaluate the plan and make sure it’s actually doing its job. The goal is to convince the U.S. Fish and Wildlife not to list the grouse as an endangered species come September 30.

University of Wyoming

The Hess Corporation announced a $15 million donation to the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources Thursday. Hess has now given a total of  $25 million to UW, making the oil and gas giant the largest corporate donor in the university’s history.

The funds will go towards construction of UW’s High Bay Research Facility—as well as equipment used in the facility and some proprietary research done there. Hess’s research will focus mostly on figuring out how to tap hard-to-reach oil and gas reservoirs.

Bob Beck

A few weeks ago the Wyoming legislative session came to a close and Governor Matt Mead admitted that he had a number of concerns. The biggest was the failure of the legislature to pass Medicaid Expansion. The governor tells us that he knew it would be a tough sell, but it was tougher than he thought.

Caroline Ballard

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, politicians, and energy industry reps gathered at the University of Wyoming Monday to break ground on a state-of-the-art building .

The $53.5 million dollar High-Bay Research Facility was funded mostly by the state government, but over $16 million of that came from energy companies. UW President Dick McGinity says their financial support points to a key partnership between industry, government, and higher education.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

All day Wednesday, volunteers will be canvassing Wyoming’s homeless shelters and streets in an effort to come up with a sort of homeless census.  

The annual effort is what’s called a homeless ‘point-in-time’ count. The results are used by agencies like the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine how much funding and assistance is needed in the state.

Brenda Lyttle with the Department of Family Services is Wyoming’s homeless coordinator. She says last year, Wyoming’s count of homeless residents was about one-thousand.

Matt Mead, Governor Of Wyoming

Jan 26, 2015
University of Wyoming

Better data, more reservoir capacity and river restoration are among the priorities outlined in Wyoming’s new water strategy. Governor Matt Mead’s office developed the strategy, with input from the public. It focuses on ten projects in three areas: water development, water conservation and water restoration. Policy advisor Nephi Cole says more than 7000 people commented on the draft strategy, which included dozens of projects.

In his State of the State message Governor Matt Mead asked for support of his energy and water initiatives and for investment in education, infrastructure, and local government. Mead said this will help overcome a downturn in energy prices.

But the governor admitted that challenges remain. He told legislators that his administration will fight against what he calls federal overreach, especially as it pertains to coal. 

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is calling on legislators to pass a bill that expands Medicaid services in the state. During his State of the State message Mead argued that failing to offer Medicaid to more people will hurt hospitals across Wyoming because it increases their uncompensated care.  

A legislative committee recently rejected an expansion plan developed by the State Department of Health, but Mead said that doesn’t matter.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead delivered his State of the State address this morning before members of the Legislature in Cheyenne. Mead reflected on his first-term accomplishments and laid out his priorities for the years ahead. 

Listen to the full audio from Governor Mead's speech here:

Mike Smith / Wyoming News dot com

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said that state leaders should look to the future in an effort to improve the state. In his inaugural address, Mead said he is excited about a number of things as he heads into his second term.

Wyoming Arts Council

Winners of the Governor’s Arts Awards were announced this week. For the first time in many years, the winners are all visual artists.

Governor Matt Mead made the final selections based on recommendations from the Wyoming Arts Council board. In a news release, Governor Mead said “These three artists...are representative of the many wonderful artists we have in Wyoming who contribute to a thriving arts economy.”

Stephanie Joyce

As oil prices continue to plummet, energy-producing states are starting to feel the squeeze. Wyoming crude is selling for half what it was in June. That price drop means companies are making less money -- and so is the state.

This year, for the first time in decades, severance taxes from oil surpassed coal and came close to knocking natural gas out of its number one spot, but now, with oil prices falling, Governor Matt Mead says the state is losing out on a lot of money.

This week, the state of Wyoming filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior in hopes of further reducing the size of the wild horse herds in the state. The lawsuit contends that wild horse populations are growing and exceeding their management levels.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is asking the legislature for what he calls a modest budget increase of roughly 156 million dollars. 

His supplemental budget request features funding for a number of one time projects that includes improving the safety of Highway 59 near Gillette, millions in matching money for the University of Wyoming, and 25 million for local governments. 

Bob Beck

Last week, Governor Matt Mead attended a cable cutting for a new biogas-fueled data center in Cheyenne. It’s a zero emissions demonstration project built in collaboration with Microsoft, the governor’s office, the University of Wyoming and the utilities industry. Cheyenne LEADS is an economic development group that helped coordinate the project.

The group’s CEO Randy Bruns says many solid waste plants around the U.S. create biofuel to control the methane build-up they produce and to power their facilities. But no one has ever tried powering a data center with this kind of energy.

In a press conference Thursday, Governor Matt Mead says he’s instructed the Attorney General to remove the sheriff of Campbell County from office. County commissioners submitted a complaint last week saying Sheriff Pownall tampered with drunk driving charges against his son, Seth. The sheriff is accused of coercing his deputies into changing it to a pedestrian under the influence charge.

Governor Mead says he was troubled by the report since he recently supported Pownall’s nomination for legislature.

Governor Mead handily beat Democratic Challenger Pete Gosar. A strong economy generally favors the incumbent, and Mead undercut one of Gosar’s main criticisms when he came out in favor of Medicaid expansion earlier this year. Governor Mead says this term he wants to expand Medicaid in Wyoming.

“We are going to present an expansion plan to the Legislature for their consideration,” he says. “It's going to be a better plan than we had last year going into session.”