Fremont County Legislators discuss important issues for 2020

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h/t www.wyoleg.gov for the featured photo

The Riverton Chamber of Commerce organized a meet and greet event for anyone who wanted to chat with Fremont County Legislators today, January 2nd. In attendance were House District 34 Representative Tim Salazar and Senate District 25 Senator Cale Case.

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With over 50 active bills for 2020 currently moving through the legislative process, County 10 asked both Salazar and Case what they are most excited about and what they are most concerned about for this election year.

A forefront item they shared a lot of thoughts about is Wyoming’s budget and the possibility of tax changes.

Salazar discussed the impact tax and budget changes could have on his district. He explained the majority of people in his rural district are seniors and veterans on fixed incomes as well as single-income households. “Any type of tax increase would affect them.” He made it clear that folks in District 34 do not want and cannot sustain a tax increase. “So I’m going to be very cognizant of the constituents that I represent when we talk about tax increases.”

Case focused more on sustainability for future generations when discussing the budget and taxes in Wyoming. Due to people’s concern for Global Warming, Wyoming’s tax structure needs to be reformed, Case explained. “We have reached the point where we’re not capable of funding the state on an ongoing basis, with enough reliability, by having just mineral taxes.” Coal production has provided so many things for Wyoming but has decreased in the past decade with no prospect of coming back. The other natural resource Wyoming offers is natural gas, but no one is drilling in Wyoming because it is everywhere and plentiful. “We need to at least take the steps to become more sustainable with our budgets. Sustainable means we need more taxes, and we need smaller budgets.”

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State funding for towns and municipalities was also a concern for Salazar. “Particularly in my district of Dubois and Pavilion and even Riverton, they are just barely making it with the services that they have.” He wants to make sure the Governor’s current budgeted disbursement amount of $105 million for the biennium stays at that level. 

Case noted he plans to vote in favor of a corporate tax that would impact any public corporation with more than 100 shareholders. He also said that the current proposed budget is not sustainable, so he will not be voting for it as is.

Education was also an item they both shared thoughts around.

Salazar explained the difficulty in understanding why there are superintendents in Wyoming that make over $200,000 a year. “Our governor doesn’t make half that much.” Schools in Salazar’s district include Dubois and Pavillion and would not be able to absorb any education budget cuts. “I’m not going to do anything that’s going to disproportionately hurt my small school districts.” 

“Fremont County is a costly place to provide education,” Case said. He believes the expenditures in all eight school districts within Fremont County need to be critically looked at. A few questions Case proposed: Can the small school districts be consolidated, could there be one bus service for all of Fremont County, and do we need this personnel at each separate school or can they be shared. 

Another issue that Salazar shared was incredibly important to him is human trafficking. There is a current house bill for 2020 that proposes enhanced sentencing for repeat offenders of human trafficking. “I fully support that,” said Salazar. He also noted a few critical social issues coming before the State Legislature in February: repealing the death penalty and a possible introduction of medical marijuana.

The most up-to-date information on Wyoming Legislature can be found here.

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