By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Despite the economic problems that have forced Wyoming to make deep budget cuts to its government agencies, there is reason for optimism in the state’s future, Gov. Mark Gordon said Wednesday.
Gordon, speaking during a news conference, said the state is actually in good condition in several areas, including its low coronavirus infection and unemployment rate, and has been helped by actions that have been taken to provide assistance to portions of the state’s economy.
“This is a challenging time, but I do believe there are reasons for optimism,” he said. “There are bright days ahead because of the sacrifices we are making. Those are having positive effects and those positive effects will have a ripple into our economy.”
Gordon pointed specifically to Wyoming’s low rate of positive results on coronavirus tests, which are averaging 2.45%, and to the state’s unemployment rate of 7.1%, well below the national average of 10.5%.
The state has directed more than $300 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to the state’s small businesses and has worked to issue contracts for the cleanup and reclamation of old coal mines and oil wells, he said, to help offset losses seen in the state’s coal, oil and natural gas industries.
“This year we are spending more on more (reclamation) projects,” he said. “It is anticipated that we will spend more than $200 million this year.”
Gordon also noted that Wyoming was one of the few states to allow its state and county fairs to proceed.
Such forward steps will be important as the state continues its work to climb out of the economic problems created by the coronavirus pandemic and energy industry slump, he said.
“Right now Wyoming feels pretty good,” he said. “We’re doing what Wyoming does. Let’s just be mindful about it. Let’s make sure we have a successful fall. That’s what’s going to be important for us to get out of this economic slump.”