Better Wyoming conducted a series of interviews on important state issues throughout 2016. Below is an interview with Jared Olsen.
Do you favor a proposed transfer of the management or ownership of federal lands to state government in Wyoming?
I want to know what exactly the people want to do with this [management transfer] option because it’s a major step. If you transfer the federal lands into state hands, the state has to manage a tremendous amount of public land. What that means is growth in state government, so that’s a quintessential question that our people have to address. Do we want less federal intervention and more state control? If we’re going to do that, we have to know that right now the system we have to manage our lands is not sufficient enough.
We’re going to have to have a system with more people, more technology and a bigger budget to do that. That’s just a reality. We can’t manage our lands on the current infrastructure we have. We have a budget crisis right now, so how do we increase one area and decrease the other? Can we offset some of that? Of course. Recreation-wise and income wise we’re going to make money off those state lands, but the studies we’re seeing right now would not be enough to offset [the expenditures].
I’m not opposed to it, I just think the people need to understand that we’re going to have to have a proper infrastructure that is going to increase expenditures, and we need to know how we’re going to balance that and where the money is going to come from.
Do you support an increase in the state minimum wage, which is the lowest in the country?
I think the market should set the wage. I am unapologetically a supporter of Cheyenne’s workers and of our business community and I think the best way to support our workers is to support the free market in this scenario. The market will set conditions and set the wages appropriately.
The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, and you have very, very, very few employers who set it below the federal minimum. Why? Because market conditions increase wages, competition increases wages based on the industry, and businesses [meet] workers’ demands in order to employ them instead of their competitors. Are there businesses that pay the federal minimum wage in Wyoming? Yes. But I also know that there are businesses where if you increased that minimum wage tomorrow, they would close their doors because they cannot afford to pay their workers more.
If a worker has the skill set and ability to make a higher wage, then they leave that job and go to another one making a higher wage. The reality is that not many can do that, so I think the wage is set appropriately for them. The market should set the wage, not the government. I think it’s working just fine. … If the worker has a skill set where they can work at a job with a higher wage, they can find that job without forcing a small business out of work.
Should the state fund early childhood education programs like Head Start?
I have a kid who is in kindergarten and my youngest is in preschool. I know preschool is a costly endeavor but I also know it’s not cost-prohibitive. The question we have to know about funding early education is how many people in Wyoming go without early education because of the funding gap? I would suspect it’s very minimal, because I know that state subsidies exist and I know day-care wise you can spend a lot, you can spend a little and everything-in-between. So I’m not convinced that early education is something the state should be funding at this point.
It’s not a question of “we fund K-12 so should we fund everything pre-K or fund everything post-12?” We need to ask ourselves what type of results do we have. We don’t have the best results in our K-12 right now. Instead of adding more to the plate, we need to address K-12 issues we have right now. We don’t have a budget right now that allows us to think of more things to spend on. We need to be thinking about where we can make appropriate cuts without increasing the tax burden on people who don’t have jobs, who can’t buy groceries, etc. So I don’t think this is the right time to see if we should fund early education.
The state Legislature rarely passes bills limiting abortion rights — measures have failed in recent years to mandate ultrasounds and require reporting of abortions. Are you pro-choice or right to life?
Life is our most basic and fundamental right. Life is given to us by God, not governments, and without it all other rights are meaningless. I will defend the sanctity of every innocent human life, especially the unborn.
By promoting a culture of strong and healthy families, we will solve many of our social issues.
Jared Olsen answered a 2016 survey by WyWatch, a conservative nonprofit unaffiliated with Better Wyoming. Unfortunately, the WyWatch website is no longer available, but Better Wyoming had downloaded his responses and provide them here as a public service.
Many states are passing legislation banning abortions where an unborn child is ripped apart limb by limb by a dismemberment procedure. Would you sponsor or co-sponsor and willingly support such legislation if you are elected?
Would sponsor or co-sponsor.
Knowing that the abortion recording laws in Wyoming are not enforced due to the lack of penalties for failure to report, would you sponsor or co-sponsor and support legislation to enhance penalties for failure to report abortions in Wyoming?
Would sponsor or co-sponsor.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification (SOGI) laws are actively being used across the country to silence those who have religious convictions opposing same-sex marriage. If elected to office do you support or oppose SOGI laws?
Do you support or oppose a parent’s right to home school their children without any government interference?
Do you support or oppose national standardized tests forcing teachers at all local levels to teach to a national standard, therefore creating a national curriculum without parental or local school board control?
Do you support or oppose legislation to teach the Bible in public schools not as a theology course but as an elective for history, literature, social studies, etc.?
Do you support or oppose legislation that would give a business owner (photographer, baker, wedding planner, etc.) the ability to refuse to participate in a same-sex union in Wyoming?
Do you support or oppose legislation opening the doors of a female restroom to “anyone” claiming to “feel” like a female at that particular moment, therefore endangering the safety and security of women and children?
What actions would you be willing to take in order to protect all women and children in restrooms and locker rooms in the state of Wyoming if you are elected?
I would support any efforts or legislation properly regulating our public restrooms. I will work with local school boards and administrators to safeguard our children.
Do you support or oppose any state, federal or local Medicaid taxes funding Planned Parenthood in Wyoming or in the United States?