Q&A: Mark Gordon, Wyoming Republican Governor Candidate
1. Wyoming had a spending deficit of 1.15 billion dollars during the last budget session. Would increasing property taxes be one way you would ensure that government is funded?
No. I do not support increasing taxes as a way to address our funding shortfall. The truth is, the boom times over the last decade have resulted in advanced spending rates that Wyoming simply cannot keep up with. The biggest job of our next Governor is going to be managing spending levels without growing government while still providing the essential services the people of Wyoming depend on. To address Wyoming’s funding challenges, we have to prioritize needs versus wants; make reductions to ensure we are living within our means; and look at ways to improve efficiencies and cut costs.
As Treasurer, I have worked hard to set conservative spending policies to make sure lawmakers can be confident in planning for spending money the state may or may not have. My track record in the Treasurer’s office demonstrates my ability to do more with less while safeguarding taxpayer dollars. I’ve been a fiscal conservative all my life and I have the private and public-sector experience to chart this new course for our state.
2. Do you feel environmental groups like the Sierra Club have helped or hurt the ag industry? How will you work with them to ensure Wyoming agriculture is promoted not crippled by their actions?
Wyoming has shown time and again her ability to balance the needs of energy, agriculture and industry with responsible land management and stewardship. When constructive feedback is presented that can help Wyoming best accomplish these shared goals, I think there is opportunity to work collaboratively. However, this kind of reasonable approach is quite different than the mindless obstruction we see too often today.
I know firsthand that there are no greater stewards of our land than our ranchers and farmers. As Governor, I would work hand-in-hand with the agriculture community to ensure we have the policies and resources in place for the industry to grow and thrive.
3. What are some of the solutions you see to the challenges in Wyoming agriculture today?
From beef, lamb, bison and pork, to sugar beets, barley and hops, gluten free oats, organic wheat, and everything in between, Wyoming’s ranchers and farmers combine their experience, knowledge and unparalleled work ethic with our unique environment to deliver universally admired products. As a state, we need to step up our support and promotion of the agriculture industry, expanding opportunities for exports, driving new technologies that will drive down costs and improve efficiencies, and fight for commonsense federal regulations that don’t tie the hands of our ag producers.
For these reasons, I’ve proposed a number of policy and regulatory initiatives to address challenges and to foster and grow the state’s agriculture economy. Positions and proposed initiatives include:
- ‘Born and Raised Wyo’ Products: Branding and promoting livestock and agriculture products grown and raised exclusively in Wyoming.
- Meat Inspection in Wyoming: Expanding opportunities under the state and federal meat inspection systems for Wyoming producers.
- Enforcing Wyoming’s Constitutional Obligation to Safeguard Livestock
- Predator Control and Animal Damage: Ensuring Wyoming’s wildlife is managed by Wyoming and not the Federal Government.
- Bringing Commonsense to Federal Agencies: Leading the way to reform regulatory structures so they are implemented in a common sense and locally accountable manner.
- Meaningful Solutions for Transportation: Fighting back against burdensome regulations and pushing for meaningful solutions that ensure safety of livestock and protection of Wyoming’s agricultural industry.
- Protecting Wyoming’s Agriculture Labor Market: Working with Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation to make the H-2A Visa program and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements less burdensome for sheep producers.
- Crops, Opportunities, and Innovation: Supporting Ag Innovation Summits and cohesive agriculture policies throughout state government.
- Expanding Export Markets: Working to expand overseas export markets for Wyoming Ag products to places like Taiwan, Vietnam and China.
- Driving New Ag Technology: Encouraging and helping facilitate early adoption of transformative technologies in agriculture.
- Protecting Wyoming Water: Pushing back against rules that would expand federal authority over our water and defend Wyoming’s rights under our interstate compacts.
4. What is your position on a state Country of Origin Labeling law?
I have supported COOL in the past because I think it is important that customers have the opportunity to know where their goods come from.
5. What are your thoughts on the recent return of the grizzly bear to the Endangered Species List? Will this help or hurt agriculture? How?
I’m disappointed that activist litigation has succeeded in superseding the diligent work of Wyoming biologists, wildlife experts and local stakeholders in developing a conservative policy to keep the population of grizzlies healthy and reduce human conflicts. With grizzly bear populations exceeding recovery goals for many years, Wyoming’s decision to reinstate a limited hunt was based in science and sound local planning.
This recent decision is unfortunate as it narrows the management options for a species which is witnessing increasingly problematic encounters with humans as both populations grow. By limiting the management options available to a status quo and precluding a reasonable hunting alternative, I believe this decision effectively relegates problem bears to a life of trapping, transportation, and euthanasia where other options might have helped to restore mutual respect between bears and humans thereby reducing the overall incidence for potentially fatal encounters.
6. Do you support any changes to the Wyoming brand law? Specifically, do you support county-to-county inspection?
This is an issue which impacts Wyoming producers across the state. It is crucial we seek input and guidance from the Wyoming Livestock Board as well as key stakeholder groups before enacting any changes to the program. I think a stakeholder engagement process that ensures the issues surrounding Wyoming brand law and county-to-county inspection are thoroughly vetted, and that we can ensure program viability, would best serve our ranching communities.
7. How important are private property rights? Do you believe energy companies should have the right to use eminent domain to gain access to private land for energy development? How should those landowners be compensated?
I believe private property rights should be respected, damages should be appropriate and companies should be required to negotiate in good faith.
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