I have the background that qualifies me for the Senate position; POLITICAL: Elected to two-terms Wyoming House, Laramie City Council, Trustee Ivinson Memorial Hospital; BUSINESS: CEO multi-state bank, Managed $20million bond portfolio, Board member banks in Wyoming/ Colorado, CEO Laramie Chamber Business Alliance; LEADERSHIP: Chair Ivinson Memorial Hospital Board, Chair Wyoming Bankers, Chair UW American Heritage Center, Lt. Governor Kiwanis, Chair Laramie Economic Development, Leadership Wyoming; EDUCATION: MBA and Finance from UW, College of Financial Planning. Laramie native.
I would be supportive of using the Cares Act funds to fund the Department of Health. These funds are to assist programs impacted by Covid19. Help for suicide prevention and other mental health issues impacted during periods of isolation is an appropriate use of these funds. Any Cares Act funds need to be expended by December 30th of 2020. Funding for the Department of Health may also be considered in the 2021 legislature and cuts could be restored depending on the revenues and priorities. I have voted for Medicaid expansion that could provide assistance to vulnerable citizens.
It is not prudent for the State to only cut expenses to balance the budget during this shortfall. We need to diversify our revenues to fund education etc. Some legislators have signed an agreement that they will not support any new taxes. I am not one of them. I am in favor of an increase in cigarette taxes. A UW study shows that non-smokers subsidize smokers by $400 million per year. I will support an increase of taxes on alcohol. I will not support a personal income tax but will consider other tax increases carefully to ensure they are the best interest of citizens of Albany County.
I have voted for Medicaid expansion every time that it was presented to the legislature. First, provide coverage for those individuals that currently don’t qualify for insurance. Secondly, support the hospitals in Wyoming. Those uninsured individuals end up in the hospital’s emergency room and hospitals charge-off the expenses as uncompensated care. Having served on our hospital board for eight years, I have seen the impact on the financials. Several hospitals in the State are in dire financial situations. Thirdly, the State is losing millions of dollars without Medicaid expansion.
public education and have also worked in banking and research. I have been dedicated to fighting suicide in Wyoming by bringing evidence-based programming to Albany County to help our local youth. I founded the Laelia Gala, an annual event raising money for the Wyoming Breast Cancer Initiative. As the wife of a small business owner, I know the financial, regulatory, and tax challenges of running a viable business as well as the hardships experienced during COVID-19. As a mother, I have firsthand experience with the current needs of families with respect to health care costs, day care cost, educational needs, employment needs, housing, and other family needs. I know making excuses about problems is easy; solving problems is my skill.
Wyoming ranks number one in rainy day fund size with approximately 109% of its annual budget set aside. For comparison, Alaska at #2 has 52.6%; #3 North Dakota has 30%; for our adjoining states the highest (besides North Dakota) is South Dakota at 11.1% and the lowest is Montana at 4.6%. We pay extra taxes to a rainy day fund to ensure continued services during difficult times. That is what rainy day funds are for and we need to release those funds to ensure vulnerable families make it through this crisis. I would restore the cuts to the Wyoming Departments of Health and Family Services.
More than half of Wyoming’s taxes come from Mineral extraction, which is declining. The public service cost of new industries is greater than tax revenue from new residents and businesses. We need a tax on business to pay for those services. We also need a fair income tax that exempts lower-income families and fairly increases for higher incomes. We need an alcohol and tobacco tax like surrounding states dedicated to health related programs such as subsidized health benefits or addiction treatment programs.
Affordable health care should be a basic human right and I strongly favor Medicaid expansion. The state is declining $1.3 billion over the next decade from the federal government. About 58,000 people are covered and an estimated 27,000 additional people could be covered including 6,000 without any access to health insurance. 61% of adult Medicaid enrollees are working but have income so low they qualify. These funds help children, nursing home residents, individuals with disabilities and 10% of Medicare seniors. Wyoming is a caring, compassionate community and we need those federal funds. This would also stabilize our rural healthcare systems that are folding.