SHERIDAN — Sam Galeotos, a Cheyenne businessman running for governor as a Republican, stopped in Sheridan Tuesday to discuss his plans for the state should he be elected governor. Galeotos identified a series of priorities he would pursue as governor: mitigating the state’s budget deficit, attracting industries that can diversify the state’s economy, empowering local communities to achieve economic growth and finding solutions for health care in the state.
Galeotos said he was concerned that the state’s most recent budget relies on savings, and diverting future savings, to address the state’s deficit.
Going forward, he said he would like to see the state formulate a plan to create a more sustainable budget.
Part of that plan, he said, would involve implementing two efficiency studies the Legislature has ordered that are designed to streamline the state government. The first study, conducted a year ago, identified roughly $200 million in cuts to the government, and Galeotos said he expects the second study, passed during the most recent budget session, would identify roughly the same amount.
While he said it was unlikely both studies would be implemented in their entirety, he believes the state could find ways to streamline its government through technology.
Economic improvement and diversification is central to Galeotos’s platform, as it is to most of the candidates running for governor.
Galeotos said he would focus on implementing business plans for each of the components of the ENDOW initiative, which would lay out the amount of money the state would invest into each part of the initiative, the expected return on that investment and a time-table for achieving that return.
“I love the aspirational side of [ENDOW]; it’s the type of thing we need to be doing, it’s the type of thing we need to be thinking about,” Galeotos said. “But let’s make sure we put rigor, business-case sense around all of [the initiatives it contains].”
He added that investing in the state’s infrastructure by improving air service and broadband connectivity, two priorities of the ENDOW initiative, would be crucial to attracting new businesses to the state.
“There’s basic blocking and tackling we need to solve in order to generate economic growth in the state,” Galeotos said.
In recruiting new businesses to the state, Galeotos said he would target technology companies.
“Technology can be done anywhere. Technology has permeated every industry, and there’s no reason we can’t do that here as opposed to the east or the west coast,” Galeotos said. “And I believe there are companies interested in being here because of our culture and our environment.”
In addition to economic diversification, Galeotos said he sees opportunities to strengthen the state’s two major industries: the energy sector and travel and tourism.
“I’m a big believer in playing to your strengths and shoring up your weaknesses,” Galeotos said.
The energy sector, Galeotos said, is still hampered by regulations and bureaucratic permitting processes. As governor, he said he would lobby the federal government to begin lifting some of those restrictions.
“We need to go to the federal level — we have a very friendly administration back in Washington right now — and we need to sit down with them and figure out how we can expedite the permitting process,” Galeotos said.
He also said the next governor would have to look at red tape on the state level but did not specify specific regulations he would target.
Galeotos said travel and tourism is already important to the state’s economy, but the state needs to be more aggressive in looking to expand that industry.
“I’ve run into people who think Yellowstone Park is in Montana,” Galeotos said. “That goes to ‘Share a Voice,’ because Montana promotes it. We need to be out constantly [promoting] on par with our surrounding states so people know all these great assets we have around the state.”
Galeotos highlighted finding health care solutions as one of his chief priorities, but he was less specific on how to find that solution. He mentioned the state’s plan on health care will depend on federal decisions and said the state should push the federal government to give it an idea of what is going to happen with federal health care law.
“I think what we need to do is bring everybody together and find the track we’re going to be on as a state,” Galeotos said.
Galeotos is one of seven Republican candidates running for governor. He will compete against Mark Gordon, Bill Dahlin, Harriet Hageman, Taylor Haynes, Rex Rammell and Foster Friess in the Republican primary Aug. 21. Mary Throne is the only Democratic candidate who has entered the race so far. The state’s general election will be held Nov. 6.