Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, called on the Republican-led legislature to use a "conservative" approach while drafting this year's budget.
Freudenthal, who is wrapping up a second term and considering challenging the state's term limits to run for a third term, urged lawmakers not to tap the state's rainy day fund. He warned them against using federal stimulus money for new projects. And he proposed taxing wind power companies as a way to diversify the state's tax base without imposing an income tax.
The governor praised lawmakers in the energy-rich state for agreeing to a hiring freeze and for giving Freudenthal the authority to cut state spending by 10 percent to keep the state in the black. Last year marked the first time the state had to cut its budget in more than 20 years.
"We arrive here today the envy of many states — not by accident, but by a design that many of you here supported and we implemented," he said.
Freudenthal gave lawmakers advice on many specific bills. He weighed in on how to pay for a new state liquor warehouse, how to promote data centers, how to readjust local property taxes and how to improve work safety.
The governor proposed two controversial ideas on wind power. He said the legislature should suspend the eminent domain authority for wind energy companies that want to build collector power lines. The other would impose a tax on wind power companies.
"The industry is not entitled to a free ride. In my lifetime, this is the first opportunity this state has had to diversify its tax base," he said.
Freudenthal called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to give states more power, compared to the federal government. He noted that he had backed legislative resolutions decrying the increase in federal power, but he argued that the only way to solve it was to amend the federal Constitution. Congress would have to propose the amendment.
"We are at a point, whether it is No Child Left Behind or the latest set of rules on how you report domestic violence numbers, at the end of the day the federal government is regulating nearly everything, nearly everything," he said. " The states need to be more than empty vessels whose job it is to execute federal policy."