Question: If the state takes over management of the public lands from the feds can they sell it?
Answer: No; the state is barred by the Wyoming State Constitution from selling the land.
Wyoming State Constitution Article 21 Section 26
“The people inhabiting this state do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof, and to all lands lying within said limits owned or held by any Indian or Indian tribes, …”
Without title no land can be sold by the state, however, the federal government has the power to sell the ground if they so desire. The better question is does the federal government have a right to the title of the unappropriated land. No; they do not. They can dispose (sell) of it, but the U.S. Constitution bars them from ownership, which they claim they have in the 1976 FLPMA ACT.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 limits land that the federal government can own to following:
“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;”
The Federal government has jurisdiction over the ten Miles square we now know as Washginton D.C. They also have jurisdiction over military bases and other needful buildings, such as courts and post offices, but that is it.
Question: Where would the state find the revenue to manage the public lands, including putting out catastrophic forest fires?
Answer: Currently the federal government retains 52% of all mineral royalty taxes. In the past that has been ~ one billion dollars. If the state managed the land, one billion dollars or more of potential revenue would come with it. That is plenty of money to manage the land with additional revenue being shared with the cities, counties, and the state. In fact, I believe there would be enough extra to lower the property tax burden and the motor vehicle registration fees the counties and state put on the citizenry.
Budget and Economic Diversification
Question: Now that the new normal is here to stay for the coal industry, which significantly decreases the amount of production tax that will come into the state, how will we balance our budget?
Answer: First we need to decrease spending by right sizing our government. Wyoming has the largest government for our population of any state in the Union. All Departments will be audited and right sized. We need to rethink the way government services are delivered to the people and what services are delivered. If there are ways to privatize certain areas that would show a cost savings that is a good starting point. Some areas of service could possibly be eliminated. I would like to discuss eliminating occupational licenses and move more to private bonding.
Second, I think it is time to charter a Bank of Wyoming, like the Bank of North Dakota, and move our investment money (~20 billion) from Wall Street back to Wyoming. The money can then be used for new and existing business loans. The state will get a fair and safe return, while business capital will stimulate the expansion of our current businesses and the growth of new businesses and new industries in Wyoming. The new businesses will diversify Wyoming’s economy and take pressure off the mineral sector, which we have traditionally relied on for about 70% of our state revenue.
Game and Fish
Question: How can we improve the quality and quantity of big game animals in Wyoming.
Answer: This is an area I have particular interest in and have some expertise. I raised elk in Idaho for 12 years and have a Masters degree in elk reproduction and nutrition. I have hunted and fished for over 50 years. I believe the answer lies in putting more of our game and fish revenue into management and less into personnel. I will propose to the legislature a new system to manage our game and fish. Regional Wildlife Trustee Boards made up of volunteer, elected hunters and fishermen, will operate much like our school boards. They know the game and fish the best and will be charged with managing this great resource. Their decisions will be based on resource improvement and sustainability, instead of personnel salaries and politics. They will set the seasons, quotas, fees, ect., and fund habit improvement projects. I will also propose law enforcement be turned over to the sheriffs, which is their Constitutional duty. Hunters and fishermen will become more invested in managing the game and the result will be better quality and quantity for all.
Question: Wyoming’s education appropriations per student are 7th highest in the United States. Is there a way to get education spending closer to the states around us while improving our quality of k-12 education.
Answer: I think it is time to open up school choice including virtual learning across the state. Competition will decrease state spending and improve quality. Classroom sizes must be increased while having more teacher aids which will also lower costs. We must rethink the way we educate our kids including a choice at age 16 to follow an academic path or a trade school path.
Medicaid and Welfare
Question: State Medicaid costs continue to rise and are a significant expense for the state. How will you curtail Medicaid and welfare costs?
Answer: We must require Medicaid recipients to work for their benefits and limit eligibility to no more than five years. We need to help our poor and less educated citizens take responsibility for their lives and realize the programs are here to give a person a hand up not a hand out. I believe the new Wyoming State Bank’s business loans will open up many opportunities for our people to work and pull themselves out of the poverty
Question: How will you address the overcrowding of our prisons.
Answer: Provide a path for our citizens to pull themselves out of poverty increasing their self worth and becoming law abiding citizens. I also believe prison should only be reserved for those whose behavior is untolerable. All other offenders should receive corrective measures outside of prison, including working for the local and state government in more programs like the Honor Farm in Riverton. I also believe after a person has paid his/her debt to society they should have all rights restored, including gun rights. We are too hard on most people who need help. We can make them productive citizens with an arm around their shoulders instead of a whip on their backs. However, harden criminals must realize their behavior will not be tolerate and penalties must be severe.