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CHEYENNE -- The state budget is too big, or it's too stingy in some places, or it's just right, according to the diverse viewpoints of three Republican candidates for Senate District 15.

The candidates are Paul Bernard, an optometrist; Janice Davis, a teacher, and Lyle Williams, a farmer. Each is from Evanston.

The winner of the Aug.17 primary will face Democratic Sen. Saundra Meyer, who is running unopposed.

Williams said the state's public payroll is too big.

He claimed that 23 percent of people employed in the state get their paychecks from public funds.

"This is unsustainable and just plain wrong," Williams said.

He added that he supports zero-based budgeting for the state as well as budget cuts nearly across the board, sparing public safety and education.

Barnard said that although the Legislature has been responsible with the budget, the lawmakers have been a little too "tight-fisted" with money for cities and counties, which are now suffering from decreased sales tax revenue.

Davis said the budget is in pretty good shape but the Legislature needs to keep the reserves intact.

The local governments, however, need alternate ways to make up for lost revenue, she said.

Regarding performance of the public schools, Davis and Barnard were in support of the current educational system.

Barnard, noting his wife has been a teacher for 34 years, said teachers have stepped up and increased accountability.

Both Davis and Barnard also believe parents need to be more involved with their children's education.

Williams is not satisfied with the performance of public schools. He pointed out that while Wyoming ranks near the top of the states in the amount of money spent per student, one in four won't graduate from high school;

"We need to focus on resource allocation and giving control back to local school boards who must answer directly to parents," Williams said.

To spur more economic development and diversification, Davis would step up tourism advertising to bring more visitors to the state.

According to Barnard, the key is to maintain fiscal responsibility and keep the rainy-day fund up and taxes low while continuing to work with the Wyoming Business Council and state agencies. . "They do a really good job of bringing businesses into towns and cities," Barnard said.

Williams said the Legislature needs to make sure the state's regulatory structure doesn't discourage entrepreneurship and that the tax structure is not overly burdensome.

None of the three candidates favors a toll road on Interstate 80. Williams said he would rather see an increase in the fuels tax to raise money to fix the state's highways. Barnard and Davis said the federal government needs to fulfill its responsibility to maintain the interstate.

A legislative committee study on wind energy issues will influence her views on a wind tax and other issues associated with wind farms, Davis said.

Davis said she doesn't support eminent domain.

Barnard said a wind tax is all right as long as it isn't so high the companies cannot make a profit.

Barnard said he supports individual property rights. If companies exercise eminent domain to gain right-of-way access they should give the property owner fair reimbursement for the worth of the land now and in the future, he said.

Williams said wind energy should be taxed like any other energy source.

"Eminent domain is a concept so egregious that it's use must be limited to only the most pressing needs of society," Williams said.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at (307) 632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

SENATE DISTRICT 15

representing most of Uinta County

LYLE WILLIAMS

* Party: Republican

* Age: 49

* Home: Uinta County

* Occupation: Farmer

* Education: Technical school

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* Family: Married, 6 children

* Political experience: None

JANICE DAVIS

* Party: Republican

* Age: (not provided)

* Home: Evanston

* Occupation: Teacher

* Education: College graduate

* Family: Married, 4 children

* Political experience: None

PAUL BARNARD

* Party: Republican

* Age: 62

* Home: Evanston

* Occupation: Optometrist

* Education: Doctor of Optometry, Pacific University

* Family: Married, 4 children

* Political experience: 4 years on Uinta County Board of Commissioners; 6 years, Evanston City council

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* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
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