Upcoming Conference, Federal changes in Mineral Royalties Payments
by Wyoming Governor Freudenthal’s office
January 2, 2008
The significant response to an upcoming conference on the benefits and challenges of growth in Wyoming has been a “pleasant surprise,” Gov. Dave Freudenthal said today during a press conference.
The "Building the Wyoming We Want" conference is scheduled for Jan. 10-11 at the Krampert Theatre at Casper College. It is designed to give state residents a voice in discussing how the state might accommodate growth and prosperity while still preserving the characteristics that make Wyoming unique.
The Governor said he is “pleasantly surprised” that the registration limit of 350 people has already been reached. He added that efforts are underway to add additional capacity so that anyone interested can attend. The registration site remains active for those who still want to attend:
Instead of raising the issues surrounding growth and development in his message to the Legislature this year, Freudenthal said he favored opening up the discussion to the public in a forum where citizens can also share their views.
Audio Files: (mp3 files)
Building the Wyoming We Want Conference (670K)
“We made a tactical decision about a year ago to try to orchestrate this from the bottom up instead of the top down. Because it seems to me, ultimately, the government is a reflection of the attitudes of the citizens. Our approach has been to invite people to come and talk about what we, collectively, not the government, but we as citizens, would like Wyoming to look like. And I’m hoping that we’ll have a good turnout. My experience has been since I got into this job is that the citizens of the state are quite animated about what they want the state to be.”
Freudenthal said he hopes for a robust discussion at the conference, but said he doesn’t know if the discussion will lead to legislation.
During today’s news conference Freudenthal also responded to questions on the recent announcement that the federal government will reduce the share of federal mineral royalty distributions to the states from 50 percent to 48 percent. Wyoming could stand to lose more than $20 million as a result of the change.
Mineral Payments (387K)
“The thing that I think is so bad about this is that Cliff Hansen and Teno Roncalio got it passed in the 70’s and they did it, and now all of a sudden we’re quietly watching the erosion of it. And maybe if we spent a little less time beating our breast about who to blame, and understanding that this reverses something that this state fought for for years and years.”
Freudenthal said he views it as a trend in the federal government’s posture toward the states.
Mineral Payments (507K)
“The bottom line is whether it’s the AML money that they’re trying to hold on to, or this change in revenues, what you’ve got is a federal government whose fiscal policy is absolutely bankrupt. And so it has decided, ‘Let’s go to the states and see if we can pull money back’. It really offends me in that this state fought for years to get this accomplished, they got it done and now all of a sudden it sort of erodes and everybody says, ‘It’s a shame.’ It’s more than a shame, it’s an absolute crime.”
Freudenthal said the state has been faced with a loss of more than $35 million in federal funding due to budget cuts ranging from the Wyoming State Forestry Division to funding for health care and highways.