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Gov. Mark Gordon

Gordon’s Chief Of Staff Retires, State Sen. Drew Perkins To Take Job

in News/Mark Gordon
State Sen. Drew Perkins. (Photo by Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

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By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter

Gov. Mark Gordon’s top staffer has stepped down.

The governor’s office announced Wednesday afternoon that Chief of Staff Buck McVeigh will retire after 36 years of working for the state of Wyoming.

“Having been given the opportunity to serve as Governor Gordon’s chief was truly the honor of a lifetime for me,” McVeigh said in a press release. “It is with a heavy heart that I leave this fine man’s side.”

McVeigh will be replaced by state Sen. Drew Perkins, R-Casper. Perkins lost his bid for a fifth term in the August primary.

No Stranger To State Policy

Perkins, an attorney, chairs the Appropriations Committee and Select Committee on Capital Finance and Investments. He has served as Senate president, majority floor leader and Senate vice president.

“I am honored and humbled to be asked to try and fill Buck McVeigh’s shoes as the Governor’s Chief of Staff. That will be a tall order,” Perkins said in the press release. “I have enjoyed working with Governor Gordon since he served as Treasurer. I respect him immensely and consider him a good friend.

“I am excited to assist the Governor and his team as he starts his second term, and to have the opportunity to work full-time in continuing to serve Wyoming and her people.”

Similar Experience

Gordon and Perkins have had similar career paths, as the governor became state treasurer in 2012.

“Drew and I have enjoyed a longstanding respect and friendship going back to my time as Treasurer,” the Governor said. “Throughout that time, I have found his advice to be correct and valuable. From the passage of Amendment A to more recent budgets, Drew has been a trusted source of wisdom and perspective. I eagerly look forward to working with him.”

Buck McVeigh

Goes Back To 1980

McVeigh joined the state in 1980 with the Department of Agriculture. His career included stints with the Department of Administration and Information, the State Auditor’s Office and the Public Service Commission. 

He joined Gordon’s staff initially as the governor’s policy director, but moved up to acting chief of staff in June 2019 when former chief of staff Pat Arp retired. The appointment was made permanent three months later.

McVeigh also was co-chairman of the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group for 14 years and served as executive director of the Wyoming Taxpayers Association for five years. 

“I will never be able to thank Buck adequately for his extraordinary service to the state and her citizens,” Gordon said. “Long before he joined my office or served as Chief of Staff, Buck had a distinguished career with Wyoming, which gave him invaluable insight into and knowledge of our state. It has been an honor to serve with Buck, and a treasure to enjoy his friendship.”

‘No Words To Describe It’

McVeigh said of all the positions he’s held in his career, being chief of staff was the most challenging. He was a key part of the governor’s staff while the cabinet maneuvered the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are truly no words to describe it,” McVeigh said. “A 24-7-365 job with endless days. We made it through some awfully difficult times over these last four years. And I say with all honesty, I couldn’t have done it without the incredible staff and cabinet that we have.”

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How the Wyoming Legislature builds the state budget: A primer

in Government spending/News/politics

By Laura Hancock, Cowboy State Daily

On Feb. 10, the 2020 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature officially begins, one that could be somber and frustrating — considering Gov. Mark Gordon has told lawmakers that after mandated expenses they only have around $23.5 million to play with.

As in prior budget sessions, the 12 members of the Joint Appropriations Committee, which crafts the state’s two-year spending bill, has met for a good chunk of December, poring over rows of numbers, grilling state agency heads and discussing the needs of the state. 

Most sections of the biennial state budget that lawmakers will pass will go into effect July 1 and end June 30, 2022. Read on to learn more about the JAC and the budgeting process. 

The agencies

The budgeting process starts with the heads of state agencies, which fall under the executive branch, submitting budget requests to the governor budget in the autumn before budget sessions, which the Wyoming Constitution states must occur during even-numbered years.

The governor

Each governor is required to release budget recommendations by Dec. 1 prior to a budget session, per the Constitution.

“What the governor does is he meets with all agencies and listens to their requests,” said John Hastert of Green River, a former Democratic lawmaker who served on JAC for about eight years.

The budget recommendations that the governor prepares for the Legislature show the agency requests and whether he accepts, modifies or rejects each one, Hastert said. 

Last month, Gov. Mark Gordon submitted budget recommendations with the expectation of around $3 billion in revenues from the General Fund — the state’s main bank account — and the Budget Reserve Account, which is akin to an overdraft account for the General Fund. 

Gordon largely recommended the Legislature keep spending low, considering the ongoing slump fossil fuel revenues, which most state leaders do not believe will be reversed any time soon, as the natural resources industry is undergoing fundamental changes. 

Gordon called for significant reduction in capital construction and limits on tapping the rainy day fund – to be used solely for legislatively-mandated educational needs and local governments. 

“We have only $23.5 million in structural (ongoing) funding available toconsider distributing during this biennium to any entity, including the entire executive branch, higher education, the Judicial Branch, and the Legislative Service Office,” Gordon said in his budget recommendations. “Additional spending cuts are on the horizon and appear imperative to keep Wyoming moving forward.”

Budget hearings

During the first week of December, the governor and agency chiefs meet with the JAC and explain budget recommendations and requests.

This year, Gordon met with the JAC on Dec. 9. The agency heads met with the JAC through Dec. 20. 

JAC interviews with agencies are expected to continue into the beginning of January, from Jan. 6-10 and again from Jan. 13-17.

Hastert said the information during the interviews with the agencies is valuable: “They get first-hand information,” he said. 

JAC markup

In the last two weeks in January, JAC markup begins. Lawmakers will start on the first pages of the governor’s budget recommendations and “mark up” the items with their own ideas of what the budget should look like. 

“They start with the governor’s recommendations and it’s either an ‘aye’ vote or ‘no’ vote or modify,” Hastert said. “Most of the time, it’s usually taking more of a cut. It’s just the nature of JAC to try to cut even further.”

The JAC’s version of the budget is the one that will be submitted for review by the Legislature.

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