Our View: State needs to start infrastructure investments
May 20, 2020
Wyoming is at a point where it needs more investment into its ageing infrastructure and the pandemic is the perfect excuse to do so, as long as the state’s legislature finally decides to open up spending some of its reserves.
The pandemic has resulted a large number of people being laid off from their jobs. The oil and gas industry has been particularly impacted, though travel and tourism efforts across the state will likely see diminished returns as well. Less revenue means less work.
However, if the state poured heavy investments into its highway system, as well as local governments seeking to accomplish projects that have slowly accumulated due to the cost of construction versus the revenue they’ve received over the past few years, Wyoming could create jobs for many of those unemployed. It would also set itself up for a resurgence after the pandemic finally subsides.
We’re not just focused on the physical infrastructure such as roads, water and the like -- we also believe more investment should occur in providing high-speed fiber connections throughout the state. When compared to Utah and Colorado, Wyoming’s internet speeds are woefully behind the curve and those speeds and connectivity are quickly becoming a selling point for companies looking to expand their operations. Wyoming cannot compete with neighboring states, even if it sacrifices tax revenue through tax credits to attract business. Wyoming struggles to even keep its most educated residents in the state as graduates from the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges tend to leave for better opportunities elsewhere.
The state’s leadership needs to have an eye on the future and invest in that future. We can’t continue to rely so heavily on the minerals industry and the state should have more legs on its economic stool to withstand hardships impacting singular industries.
Investing now not only provides jobs and economic stability for those who have had it yanked from them, but would better position the state in the future. This is a prime time for the state to make those investments because the future of Wyoming’s residents depend on it.
Legislators, the time to act is now.