By Associated Press – 14 Jan ’15
Gov. Matt Mead has completed his state address to Wyoming lawmakers in Cheyenne.
Mead, a Republican, was sworn in to his second term as governor last week. He gave the state of the state address Wednesday at the state Capitol in Cheyenne.
Mead emphasized that the state of Wyoming is strong. He says the state must continue to invest in its infrastructure and educational program. Mead is asking lawmakers to approve an additional $156 million in spending on top of the two-year budget the state passed last year. He hasn’t specified where the money should come from, but says spending on state infrastructure can be the best investment.
Many lawmakers are concerned about the future of Wyoming’s revenues, given recent declines in oil prices.
Mead is calling on lawmakers this session to develop a clear policy for how to manage the state’s roughly $2 billion in its so-called rainy day fund, which has more than doubled during his first four years in office.
He says his administration is working on a statewide water policy that should be released soon. He says the strategy will call for building 10 small reservoirs over the next ten years in addition to other projects.
Mead says Wyoming must act to address the Medicaid expansion issue. Expanding Medicaid is a cornerstone of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Mead in the past has opposed expanding the Medicaid program to offer insurance to some 17,000 low-income adults. He has said he doesn’t trust federal promises to continue to pay most of the cost of expansion. The Legislature repeatedly has rejected expansion proposals in the past.
But Mead told lawmakers on Wednesday that the state is losing money to other states by rejecting the program while sticking hospitals with the cost of uncompensated care.