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Haroldson: Governor Gordon Unconstitutionally Plays Politics with People’s Lives 

March 25, 2024

Tell a liberal you favor lower taxes, and they’ll respond by asking you if you want to go without paved roads, running sewers, and other critical infrastructure.     

It’s a straw-man argument, of course. Everyone wants basic public goods and services to be well funded and functional.That’s why I’ll always support funding the constitutional and necessary functions of government. Our nation’s founding fathers knew that these things, like post offices, are necessary for a functioning society.     

What our founders didn’t envision was a government that ballooned over 30% in five years, one so huge that it could fund businesses to compete with your neighbor’s feed store, or so detached from reality that it believed it could save and spend better than the people can.     

For these, and many other reasons, I joined 20 of my colleagues in the Wyoming House in voting against what constitutes the largest budget in Wyoming history.     

For this, the Governor has chosen to dangerously put lives and livelihoods in my district in jeopardy with one swish of the pen.     

The Governor issued a line-item veto to remove funding for an aging water tower in my home of Wheatland- a water tower that is in such poor shape, it could breach at any moment, destroying ten or more city blocks in its wake. Within the area of this aging tower are countless homes, many businesses, a school, and more.     

I believe that we should always attribute to misunderstanding what could otherwise be attributed to malice- and I’ll never impugn someone’s motives for cheap points.     

Governor Gordon is playing politics with people’s lives– and he even said so himself.     

In his veto letter, the Governor stated clearly that the reason for removing funding for the water tower was due to my vote against the budget:

      “Following the lead of local legislators who voted against the budget thereby indicating their regard for the inclusion of this project in the budget, I have removed this provision.”     

Not only is this move reckless and retributive– it is also likely unconstitutional.     

Known as  punishment by appropriation, Gordon’s line-item veto violates Equal Protection principles as set out in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The state of Wyoming cannot deny funding to a city because its representative voted against the budget.     

At the end of the day, this personally targeted veto would be funny if it weren’t a life threatening, unconstitutional move.