January 13, 2021 |
Full video replay of Gov. Gordon’s address below
Governor Mark Gordon addressed the 66th Wyoming Legislature Tuesday remotely. The video address was symbolic of how the disjointed, socially distanced and all-digital session will play out when it resumes later this month.
The legislature adjourned shortly after the governor’s address yesterday. It will reconvene on January 27th.
Concerns about the coronavirus, which hit the state shortly after last year’s session gaveled to a close, will shape much of the form and the content of this year’s session.
While Governor Gordon expressed hope that we are at “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic, he observed the toll the virus took on Wyoming.
Yesterday was the first time the governor publicly addressed the suicide rate since public health orders were first issue last March. Gordon added that the state is working to address the mental health side effects the pandemic and government restrictions caused.
The governor also highlighted the distribution of $1.25 billion Federal CARES Act funding over the last six months. About $500 million went to small businesses.
Gordon’s video address was shorter than a typical opening day address to the legislature from a governor. Gordon did not even refer to the state of the state. Instead he spoke in broad outlines about policy initiatives for education, the energy sector and other areas of importance to Wyoming people. The governor said he would have more details in coming weeks.
Still, Wyoming faces a tough economic outlook. When the legislature does get down to business, it could be forced to cut up to nearly half-billion dollars in public services — from schools, health care, infrastructure and elsewhere — to make up for lost revenues from the declining fossil fuels industries.
The governor said Wyoming’s economy is experiencing a fiscal storm. He compared the situation to the Blizzard of ’49 that brought the state to a standstill. Digging out and rebuilding will be the big challenge of 2021.