Mead: ‘What’s good for Wyoming is good for the country’
Casper – After working hard to finish out his general election campaign, Wyoming Governor-elect Matt Mead says he started the transition process the day after the election.
Mead was on hand to address the crowd at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Winter Roundup in Casper Dec. 12-14.
Mead told the group that the transition process includes talking to the people in charge of each state agency, and making a decision about whether to continue with the current director or replace them, as well as a thorough, inch by inch review of the supplemental budget.
“I’ve also been traveling a lot,” said Mead. In the last 30 days he’s attended the Western Governors’ Association meeting, the Republican Governors’ Association meeting and the National Governors’ Association meeting.
Of his reasons for attending so many, he says the Republican and Western Governor associations have a lot in common with Wyoming interests, including energy, agriculture and water. He says partnering with states that hold similar interests follows his campaign talk about how Wyoming will move forward when so many challenges come from outside the state’s borders.
In addition to the governors’ meetings, Mead has also traveled to Washington, D.C., where he met with a number of President Obama’s cabinet, including the secretaries of agriculture, energy and homeland security, and the President himself.
“He invited individual governors to stand up and say what was on their mind, and I told him a little bit about Wyoming’s concerns. I know I got his attention, because in his following speech he mentioned one state, New York, once, and he mentioned Wyoming three times, which I’m not sure if that’s good or bad,” joked Mead.
Mead said one area on which he focused while addressing the President was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“We understand it has a role, but in Wyoming it can be a business killer for energy or agriculture,” he said. “He’s interested in clean technology and clean energy, and I am, too, and Wyoming is, because we want to continue to use our coal, oil and gas.”
Mead mentioned that, when he met with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Chu’s focus was on how many more efficient coal plants China has than America.
“That may be true,” said Mead. “But they can put up one a week – they have more backs. We can put up one every five or 10 years.”
“For America to improve our technology, we have to have an environment now that is profitable for the private sector to continue to move forward,” he continued. “They’ll find the technologies, and make the advances, but they can only do that if they continue to be profitable, and they can only be profitable if excessive rules and regulations are removed from the table.”
Mead said he will work with the Wyoming congressional delegation to make sure Wyoming’s voice is heard at a national level.
“The fact of the matter is, if it’s good for Wyoming, it’s good for this country, because Wyoming provides so much in terms of water, energy and food,” said Mead. “If Wyoming’s doing well, the country will do well.”
Mentioning the theme of the convention, “The Next Generation,” Mead said they absolutely must be a part of Wyoming agriculture.
“We have to make sure the message is that agriculture provides so much to Wyoming, in terms of the economy and quality of life,” he said. “To keep young people in agriculture, we need to get rid of the death tax.”
“It ultimately divides ranches,” said Mead. “If you’re paying 50 percent every generation, in two generations, without very good estate tax planning, you’ll lose your ranch. Ending that is one of the best things we can do to preserve ranches for the next generation.”
He added that, just as in energy production and tourism, to have agriculture for the next generation, it has to be profitable.
“We can’t ask kids or grandkids to get into the ranching business without a certain quality of life and a certain economic standard to live by,” he continued. “That goes along the lines of what I was talking to the President about, with excessive rules and regulations.”
Turning to the subject of wolves, Mead spoke of the meeting between himself, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Freudenthal, Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.
“We explained our wolf problem to Secretary Salazar, and he agreed they should not be able to disturb our livestock,” said Mead. “Salazar said it’s clear the gray wolf is recovered, and ought to be delisted. I wish I would have had a piece of paper with a place for his signature.”
However, that’s where Mead said he got his first lesson on the way things work. “They agreed to send some people up to Cheyenne to work out the details, which of course brings in other people, and in two days the plan didn’t resemble at all what I thought it should be, or what we talked about at the meeting.”
“We had the head of the agency saying it looked like a simple deal, the three governors saying it looked like a simple deal, but it didn’t get done, so who’s driving the bus?” asked Mead.
“The advantage of the proposal was that it was a legislative fix, saying what we’re going to do with wolves, and barring future litigation, because we could have 2,000 wolves and we’d still be in court with the environmentalists,” he continued. “The legislative fix was a very good idea, but we didn’t get it done.”
“Wolves may not be the biggest issue Wyoming faces,” said Mead. “In my mind, they’re symptomatic of a very large issue in Wyoming – an issue and a problem with the federal government. We can know what’s right, and the federal government can agree with us, but we still can’t get things done.”
Mead said part of the solution to that is to form coalitions with other governors. “We need to have friends and allies who will step up,” he said. “There’s a lack of leadership in Congress, and governors have the opportunity and the duty to step up and talk about these issues.”
Health care policy
“Wyoming should not sit on the sidelines with this issue,” said Mead of “Obamacare,” or the “Affordable Health Care Act.”
“I think it’s bad policy,” he stated. “What’s remarkable to me is that even the people who agree with it seem concerned about whether or not it’s Constitutional. We cannot forget that we have a Constitution, and it matters whether or not things are Constitutional.”
“The problem is that if you tell someone they have to buy something just because they’re an American citizen – if that’s the rule of law – then we can say we’re going to force everyone to buy beef. There’s no limitation on it,” he explained.
“When I become Governor, Wyoming will join the lawsuit,” he said. “It has importance in health care, and importance for the rule of law. Just because it came from Congress and the federal government doesn’t mean it’s right. Congress, like all of us, needs to follow the law of the Constitution.”
“To continue to support the supplemental budget and issues like health care and education we have to pay the bills, and to pay the bills we have to have the private sector do well. We have to do well in energy to move Wyoming forward, and in agriculture and tourism, and we have to do better at technology. I’ll continue to do whatever I can to enhance the private sector, because that’s what allows us to do the things in Wyoming that we want to get done,” promised Mead.