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State House District 55

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    Bethany Baldes

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    Ember Oakley

Biographical Information

Biographical Information.

Given the cuts to the Wyoming Departments of Health and Family Services already made by Governor Gordon, how would you immediately protect the most vulnerable among us?

Do you support any legislation that may come before the 2021 session of the Legislature that could result in raising revenue? Please explain.

What is your position on “Medicaid expansion” that allows low-income adults to be eligible for healthcare coverage with 90% funding from the Federal government and 10% funding from the State?

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I am a wife, mother, soldier, and proud life-long resident of Riverton. After graduating from Riverton High School, I joined the Wyoming National Guard to serve and protect our constitution. After concluding my service, I was a stay at home mother and community activist focused on supporting small local businesses; I serve on the Riverton Zoning Board, the Riverton Medical District Steering Committee, as the Program Director for the Riverton Rotary Club, and various other positions in the community. As the wife of an oilfield worker, I understand the struggles of average Wyoming families first hand and know what it means to live through the booms and the busts. You can trust that I will fight for what matters to you.
Right now we are experiencing some of the most unprecedented challenges our country has ever seen. With both COVID and the downturn in the extraction industry hitting Wyoming at the same time, it is clear that it is time that we use our rainy day funds as a stopgap while we rework and streamline our budget in a way that preserves services, and critically examine our investment funds. If we can improve returns, especially on funds like the emerging markets account, we may be able to offset some of the more serious cuts. We should also view this as a time to innovate and reimagine the way we offer services. Instead of looking for cuts, let's look for cost-saving innovation and more responsible spending practices before we gut valued services.
Rasing revenue has become a code word for raising taxes, so it is important to draw a distinction between new revenue from economic diversity and new revenue from taxes. I would support legislation that allowed for more industries that are less prone to boom and bust cycles, to creating better, higher-paying jobs and stabilizing sales tax revenue. I would also support adjusting our investment accounts to maximize returns. While the answer is not always to gut, there are out-of-the-box solutions that still allow Wyoming families to keep more of their money, and create a more sustainable funding model.
At this point, any politician who promises to expand Medicaid is not aware of the massive budget deficit facing Wyoming. I am always open to looking at costing models because access to healthcare is very important. There are ways that we can immediately increase access and reduce costs for all consumers, allow for doctors to continue to practice medicine across state lines, allow for the importation of prescription drugs to reduce costs, reduce regulations on innovations like telemedicine, and ensure that pricing is always transparent. Scarcity is the number one driver of increased costs, reducing scarcity will improve service and reduce the costs for everyone in Wyoming.
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