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The Status Quo just Ain’t Good Enough….

 

 • Wyoming’s budget is in serious trouble and I can directly contribute to fixing it.

• Education has far too much paperwork layered on the classroom.

• “Equality State” women are often asked to take a back seat for the good of their family

In this past budget session the Houses of our legislature were flipped on spending. In my observation the House has been the keeper of conservative spending and low taxes. But somehow this time it was the Senate seeking to lower spending, although they would not have fixed the entirety of the enormous size of the underfunding. The Senate would have extended the life of our savings.

The decision on the budget came down to a late Saturday night pow-wow between Speaker Harshman, President Bebout, and Governor Mead. I believe the Governor sided with the Speaker and they took all the money needed to maintain the status quo out of savings.

What’s wrong with that? Well, as Senator Charlie Scott (Natrona) spoke on the floor in closing the Senate there is a very large financial cliff out there in Wyoming’s future.

So why run? There are several groups in the legislature: One of them is about 15-18 Representatives that sit on the sidelines, rarely putting up productive legislation, and know all the buzz phrases to toss into debate. They use these buzz phrases so they can return to their constituents and say something like “I’m fighting for you.” This maintains the illusion that they are actually doing something when they are not.

House District 22 is one of those.

So what can we do for the budget? The underfunding is so large that short of shutting down the Wyoming government, the best that can be done is to tighten our belts, cut back on state government to extend the life of our savings funds and pray that the federal receipts start upward before the savings are exhausted. The problem is that the House did not even try to reduce funding.

So what will I do? First thing will be to get into the details of various departmental budgets and find the fat. In education Wyoming has too many administrators, superintendents, principals and such. I took a hard look at the education budget. About $50M can be removed without touching “the basket of goods.” The basket of goods distracts the discussion from a hard nosed look at education.

I had an interview with the Wyoming Education Association. I don’t see eye to eye with them on some things, but the interviewer was a card carrying Republican and I found common ground on things like a system that over administrates. I’ve observed a district that saves money by finding ways to replace senior, experienced teachers with new teachers out of college. This is nuts. Our system rewards districts with money in perverse ways such as large classroom sizes even though the legislature has legislated a smaller classroom.

I was shocked when I heard that the incumbent from HD-22 refused an interview with the WEA.  This is crass politics and nothing more. How can one effectively legislate if you don’t even know what an organization like the WEA is thinking? Nuts.

Think about it… teachers teach… and administrators push paper and come up with the next neat, new program to advance their career. These programs rarely keep working after they leave… You don’t understand the problem until you reflect on a teacher talking about “the flavor of the week…”

I believe that an income tax is hovering on the horizon, but the legislature isn’t quite sure of how to prevent it. I will stand against such a tax and require the Legislature to find out how to pare down the departments of state government. If you read most commentators, you’ll see them presume that current state spending is about right and should not be cut back. Even some senior republicans seem to think that an income tax is palatable even if they don’t like it.

I disagree, time to get out the sharp red pencils.

For example Speaker Harshman spoke at the closing of the House saying that the House had singularly saved education. What I observed is that they didn’t look very hard. We must be careful since we might Save Education right into a disaster.

I have observed how Wyoming treats women. I saw my wife treated very, very poorly by a school district and not one level of Wyoming government would stand up to what I feel were obvious illegal actions.

I was blessed with a wife who supported me and our family during my 30 years of active Navy Service. To have to stand by and see what I saw done to her in Pinedale was painful. I’m just a husband that loves my wife and was disgusted with how she was treated. The Code of the West should deliver better…

I will stand up for women’s issues designed to ensure a level playing field.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's Facing the Legislature?

As I see things there are three big issues facing Wyoming: (1) dealing with the large reduction in revenues, (2) getting education on track, and (3) ensuring that Wyoming does not seek a tax increase as a fix for the revenue problems.

Making these things happen means HD 22 must have a powerful Republican voice.

Wyoming's revenues projected in the CREG report (April 2016update) are starkly declining.

A recent "front door" conversation highlighted the powerful desire people have for leaders who share a sense of responsibility to the people. Leaders who carry the sense of the people back to Cheyenne and then act on that. Walking and talking was the essence of how I've done business as a leader in the Navy and that is a key element of what I've done in speaking up these past years in legislative committee hearings.

The essence of the recent Presidential Primary season is frustration of voters with business as usual politicians who say one thing at home and perform differently in Washington or Cheyenne. Frequently they use phrases such as "common sense" and yet are just pushing an agenda. The core of my Active Duty Service was listening to my people and then incorporating what I heard into my actions. That is my commitment to you, the voters of HD-22.

Empty rhetoric and harsh conservatism won't get us through. Only hard nosed work will do.

I'm running because I get things done!

My opponent proposes to be common sense, yet legislation proposed by my opponent has gone nowhere and the amendments to bills offered on the floor have been notable in the lack of republican support when they came to a vote.

The 12 years I've spent observing our legislature have given me an ability to work with the system and get things done. One must make the case for something by speaking to the current need and to what the future will bring. I have done so.

The picture to the left above is from two young ladies in Cheyenne a few years ago. I came upon their 'Yard Sale' and they were selling pictures they had painted. This is one of them. This is inquisitiveness, inventiveness and gumption in these young ladies. Many things, like family, directly contribute to these characteristics, but a good set of classroom teachers goes a long way too.

A common question one hears campaigning is 'What programs will you cut?'

I object to the pay raises the Governor gave to his staff not so long ago... So I'd begin there.

In reducing a budget one has to recognize that there is maybe 10% flexibility. In essence  probably 75% of a budget has little ability to be cut since it is things like heat, lights, school buses & fuel, other infrastructure, etc, you get the idea. The next 15% has some flexibility but not a lot, it's things like operating school cafeterias. The flexibility then comes within that last 10% of a budget.

But in the end, the revenue reductions to be faced are larger than that 10%. We're getting into cutting bone.

I think the better approach is to speak to what will be protected. I will seek to protect Law Enforcement, then Fire Fighters & EMS, then Education. Education is the future of Wyoming's economy and it begins with those in the front line: teachers.

Administrators can be effectively reduced, in my observation when the supervisory part of a system starts ballooning failure is the reason. Cutting teaching positions (unless as a result of fewer students) usually means increasing class size (it wasn't so long ago that the legislature mandated a reduced class size...). If we are to cut education we first take a hard look at the size of administration.

 

 

 

 

 


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