The two candidates in one of Wyoming's highest profile legislative races aired very different views on the state's budget challenges at a candidate forum on Tuesday morning.

The race pits House District 11 Democratic incumbent Mary Throne against her challenger, Republican Jared Olsen. Throne is the Wyoming House Minority Floor Leader while Olsen is the chair of the Laramie County Republican Party.

On the issue of how Wyoming should face the budget challenges posed by a downturn in the state economy, Olsen called for "thinking outside the box." He says one approach could be "zero-based budgeting."

Olsen says that would allow the state to go through its budget "agency by agency" looking for possible savings. Olsen also called for a yes vote on Constitutional Amendment A and said no matter what happens "tough cuts have to be made."

But he also said cuts "cannot be made at the expense of the people."

Throne, by contrast, called zero- based budgeting "a gimmick," adding "gimmicks won't solve our problems." Throne says a better approach would be to "put all of our revenues on the table, we need to put all our needs on the table, and we need to discuss how we get through this crisis."

She also said the Legislative Reserve Stabilization Account (commonly known as the "rainy day fund") should be used to "stabilize the volatility in our revenues," adding that is what the fund was intended.

Throne did agree with Olsen about the need to pass Constitutional Amendment A, adding she and state senator Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) were the original proponents of the idea.

Throne said the other key factor in dealing with the budget challenges faced by the state is to "quit mismanaging our money."

Throne and Olsen made the comments at a "Politics And Pancakes" forum presented by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce at Little America and broadcast live on KGAB-AM.

The forum was hosted by KGAB talk show host Gary Freeman.

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