GOP Governor Candidate Harriet Hageman Promotes Core Wyoming Industries
High tech won't save Wyoming, but strengthening the state's legacy industries will, a Republican candidate for governor said Wednesday.
"I'm not against tech, in fact, we talked a bit about it today," Harriet Hageman said after touring the Evansville-based Mesa Natural Gas Solutions and speaking to its employees.
Wyoming residents should have access to broadband, the internet and advanced 5G technology, Hageman said. "Those are incredibly important things the state can do."
But a primary emphasis on technology for the state's future won't be unseating the role of the state's three core industries of energy, tourism and agriculture, she said.
Hageman, a Cheyenne attorney, is among among six Republicans who have filed to seek their party's nomination in the Aug. 21 primary. The others are Sam Galeotos, Bill Dahlin, Foster Friess, Mark Gordon and Taylor Haynes. The only Democrat so far to have filed is Kenneth Casner.
Her approach to development differed from Galeotos, who spoke in Casper last week to announce his business advisory team and laid out his vision for the state's economy that must rely more on technology, he said. "Technology is not only the great equalizer in this world, it is the great enabler."
Knowledge-based jobs are moving from the coasts to the heartland, and they sow the seeds of as-yet unimagined opportunities in health care, agriculture, tourism and energy, Galeotos said. Galeotos was deeply involved with companies that applied technology to tourism.
But Hageman questioned how a primary tech focus would benefit the state, starting with Wyoming's limited tax structure of severance, property, sales and use taxes.
"So bringing in the tech industry, tell me how that's going to fund government," she asked. "Tell me how that is generating revenue for the state of Wyoming?"
Hageman isn't in favor of higher taxes, and repeatedly told Mesa Natural Gas Solutions employees that state spending can be reduced significantly.
"But what is important is, as governor I still have to figure out how am I going to fund state government, how am I going to provide services to the citizens of the state of Wyoming," she said. "How do we make sure our highways are fixed? How do we make sure that our city streets are fixed?"
The same funding questions, she added, apply to caring for the elderly, providing health care, funding the Department of Environmental Quality and the State Engineer's Office.
"How is that funded," Hageman asked. "It's not funded by tech unless he (Galeotos) is advocating for something along the lines of an income tax."
That's why she is adamant to protect and fight for the legacy industries of minerals, agriculture and tourism, she said. "That's where the revenue in Wyoming comes from."
Hageman complimented the scores of employees who gathered in the shop of the four-year-old Mesa Natural Gas Solutions for their work in building natural gas generators that are sold in Wyoming and other states.
State government needs to be trimmed, she said, citing statistics that Wyoming is No. 1 in state employees per capita, and No. 50 in state transparency, and believes the two are connected.
Despite concerns about the size of state government, Hageman favors as much support for veterans as possible.
She excoriated the education system that requires so much testing of students even on the kindergarten level, she said. "I've had teachers cry."
Regarding education, Hageman wants a greater emphasis on blue-collar work, she said. "The trades are the future."