TORRINGTON – Wyoming might not be in the same financial position it was before the energy crash, but it is holding its own, and slowly but surely climbing to more
Noting that Wyoming now shows a balance of $21 billion in investments, State Treasurer Mark Gordon told the Torrington Rotary Club last week that speaks a little about the way our investments have grown.
It was only a few years ago that the investment balance stood at $15 billion, but Gordon has lead efforts to realign the state’s finances and the results are becoming quite obvious.
A Kaycee-area rancher and a former Director of District 10 of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Kan., Gordon was appointed in October 2012 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Treasurer Joseph Meyer. Gordon was elected to a four-year term in 2014.
According to Gordon, the state needs a consistent income stream that won’t rely so heavily on the minerals industry. He has taken several steps, with the cooperation of the Legislature and other State officials, to achieve that goal.
And once that is achieved, “My job is to hold on to it,” Gordon explained. “If we spend everything we make today, what will we do tomorrow?”
Using that formula, Gordon said, “Goshen County knows how to get things done.”
He explained that a geology study several years ago indicated various parts of the state were subject to upheavals caused by Nature, while Goshen County is un-touched by those uncertainties, which also draws a lot of outside dollars. However, it has figured out how to survive without all the geysers and coal mines and other naturally occurring benefits. It doesn’t expand quickly, nor implode, but continues on a steady course
In planning ahead, Gordon said, “The challenge is not to borrow from your heirs, but to shepherd your resources to make sure there’s a future.”
In Cheyenne, Gordon is practicing what he preaches. He explained that when one state employee left, Gordon examined the office and the results it was getting. He wanted to bring money back to Wyoming that was being spent on outside consultants. The goal was to save money, as well as improve Wyoming’s economy. Consequently the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund is steadily growing to meet future needs.
However, not all state agencies can be managed the same way, he cautioned, citing schools as an example that have to be financially supported.
Deploying dollars inside the state can be extremely beneficial, Gordon said. The state has injected $250 million in local banks, and the state’s total investment statewide is
Against the State acting as a welfare apparatus, Gordon said Goshen County is an example of an entity helping itself by utilizing an economic development sales tax.
According to Gordon, the future looks good for Wyoming. He said it has a lot to recommend itself to young people who want to get away from crowds and high prices in large cities.
“Wyoming has a bright future,” Gordon said. “It’s not in huge projects, but is tied to entrepreneurial efforts.”
Wyoming’s $20 billion state funding capital is ranked in the top 40 worldwide by one international organization, and another ranks Wyoming government third in the world for transparency, behind only Norway and New Zealand.