Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead in his state of the state address on Monday advocated for continuing two major initiatives launched in the past seven years: diversifying the energy-dependent economy and slashing the size of government.
In his eighth and final address, Mead pointed to success in moving Wyoming away from overdependence on natural resources and the oil and gas industry and systematically reducing the state budget for four of the eight years.
Mead said the size of state government is 30% smaller than in 2010 when he was first elected.
Calling it a "long-term plan executed over a long term," Mead's 20-year diversification strategy emerged in late 2016 following the global oil price crash, leading to the creation of the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) initiative.
With 70% of the state's economy dependent on the energy sector, Wyoming withstood boom-bust cycles and by mid-2014 it was facing another one, he said.
"I hear the enthusiasm across the state for ENDOW and also some skepticism," Mead said. "We must listen to both sides, but I reject the idea that Wyoming is incapable of determining its own future or that our future will only be determined by commodity prices or other exterior forces."
Mead championed funding for ENDOW in his final budget, which would include financial support for a state representative to be based in Taiwan to advocate for Wyoming coal and other exports to Asia-Pacific markets.
"We have to invest in ENDOW as diversification is the best way to keep the state's future bright," Mead said.
He stressed that the comprehensive energy initiative introduced five years ago is a long-term plan to address 47 separate initiatives. The initiatives, many of which took shape in draft form in his first two years in office, is a living document designed to evolve over time.
"We have made long-term policies that will serve Wyoming for many years with an energy strategy, water strategy...and now the ENDOW initiative," Mead said. "Because these are long-term strategies there is more to come."
He also said he supports a proposal in the Wyoming legislature for Statutory Framework 14, designed to continue the long-term energy strategy when he leaves office at the end of this year.