Guest Column: State Senate In Step With Wyoming Citizens

Sen. Cheri Steinmetz writes, "The way policies are vetted is through legislative process, not a budget footnote that creates a $430 million dollar slush fund for the governor."

CSD Staff

February 28, 20243 min read

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Wyoming citizens deserve to weigh in on where they want taxpayer dollars to go. The senate defunded any unobligated unexpended matching funds for large energy projects so citizens can do just that.

Citizens should have a say in policies like Direct Air Capture of CO2, Carbon Capture and Sequestration or other projects designed to Decarbonize the West, achieve Net Zero or make Wyoming the first Carbon Negative State. 

The way policies are vetted is through legislative process, not a budget footnote that creates a $430 million dollar slush fund for the governor.  

 In order to properly review projects annual bills such as the Omnibus Water bills which appropriate funds out of the Water Development accounts or the Large Project funding bills which appropriate funds from the Wildlife Natural Trust Fund require legislative interim committee work. 

This work leads to a bill, that requires public comment, action by the entire legislature and then action by the governor. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch to set policy, vet expenditures and appropriate funds. 

If we are going to engage in large energy projects, this is the model for how it should be done. 

 According to a poll obtained by Cowboy State Daily in an article by Leo Wolfson on February 23, 2024, “82% of respondents want their elected officials to champion legacy energy production such as oil, coal, natural gas and rare earth minerals regardless of the Biden administrations preference for green energy and 11% said they want elected officials to reduce Wyoming’s production and use of fossil fuels and prioritize a carbon-reductive approach to energy resources.” 

Every elected official in Wyoming should be all ears about what our citizens expect from us regarding energy policy.  We should not blindly follow the Biden administration as we chase federal dollars.

The Senate also acted concerning the University of Wyoming to curb the “woke” agenda. 

The Diversity Equity and Inclusion and Gender Studies programs were defunded and eliminated. Funds for abortion and “gender transitioning” of children were prohibited.

The University was directed to submit an itemized budget to the appropriations committee rather than receive a block grant for more transparency.

During the final debates and amendments of the Senate mirror budget bill, the body made profound changes to the interim bill produced by the Joint Appropriations Committee making reductions of approximately $767 million dollars. 

As property taxes have skyrocketed in some areas of the state, state government has received a huge windfall.  As conservatives, we don’t want to see government grow as a result. 

Instead, we must consider those who have been harmed the most, our senior citizens and families both struggling to make ends meet. 

This session we must work together to find solutions that allow funding of the essential functions of government without harming citizens through unbearable burdens.

The Wyoming Senate made responsible reductions and passed a fiscally conservative budget in order to do just that.  I am proud of the work of the Wyoming Senate.

Cheri Steinmetz represents Senate District 3 and lives in Lingle.

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CSD Staff