Oct 28, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterRep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said he has enjoyed the opportunity to face some challengers this year in the race for Wyoming House District 55.
"I have opponents this year, which actually always makes it more interesting," Miller said this week.
"It causes issues to get discussed more, and frankly voters have a choice with the philosophy they like the best. That's the way the system is supposed to work."
Miller has held his position as state representative for seven consecutive terms, and though he doesn't always enjoy his time in Cheyenne he said it is important for him to contribute his experience and talents to discussions among legislators.
"The individual knowledge I have that other legislators don't have is a really important thing," Miller said. "There are a lot of agriculture people down there, oil and gas people, teachers, lawyers in the legislature. There's only one geologist."
Miller said he wants to "set the record straight" about the abundance of minerals in Wyoming. Some have said coal reserves in particular are running low, but Miller said the state could continue extracting coal for thousands of years.
"Diversified minerals can pay the taxes in Wyoming perpetuity. That's my position," Miller said. "But you can shut down coal, oil and gas by taxing it more and more."
Access to mineral resources also has become an problem for the state's energy industry, as Miller said regulatory agencies have stopped issuing as many permits for use of public lands in Wyoming.
"That directly affects the Wyoming tax base," Miller said.
He is in favor of a diversified economy, and he encouraged more businesses like the Brunton Out-door Group and the National Out-door Leadership School to come to Wyoming.
"I want Central Wyoming College to thrive and create smart working people for all of these industries," Miller said. "I want more entrepreneurs thinking up more ideas for Fremont County."
He added that the state's business climate will be more inviting for all kinds of companies if the mineral industry stays healthy.
"We don't tax Brunton or NOLS," Miller said. "Who we tax is the mineral production here in Fremont County and across the state. ... If you want to have a tax base to support the social programs we have in abundance in Wyoming, you have to have mineral production."
With 8 percent budget cuts instituted statewide, Miller said he does not approve of tapping into Wyoming's "rainy day account" just yet.
"I think we need to save those (reserves) for the future -- I don't know that it's going to get better the next year or the year after." Miller said. "I'd rather wait for a more difficult time to start tapping into those savings accounts."
He pointed out that the 8 percent cuts statewide have only resulted in one reported layoff, at Central Wyoming College.
Miller called himself "extremely conservative," and asked voters to look at his state record if they want to learn more about the work he has done for the state.
"We've had surpluses for years, and we've distributed those monies as best we can to benefit all citizens," Miller said.
He is especially proud of progress made to increase teacher salaries at state public schools. Ten years ago, Miller said Wyoming's average teacher salary was listed in the lowest quartile in the country.
"Now we're pretty close to the upper quartile," Miller said. "And again, that happened because we had this mineral wealth being created. ... We built a new school in Riverton with those funds, and we're building new schools around the state with those excess funds. It's all connected."
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