In his remaining state of the state tackle, Gov. John Hickenlooper touted seven years of financial development that noticed Colorado lifted from the depths of the Nice Recession to grow to be one of many nation’s most vibrant economies — at the same time as tough challenges from highway congestion to the rising urban-rural divide stay unaddressed.
The term-limited Democrat was reflective as he begins his eighth yr in workplace, recalling the toll that the monetary collapse took on the state, and the tough, collaborative work it took to get well.
“After we first met on this room, our financial system was in disarray,” Hickenlooper stated, in response to a preliminary copy of his remarks. “…So we did what Coloradans do: we rolled up our sleeves and set to work.”
He praised the bipartisan successes of a yr in the past on points starting from hospital funding to development defects reform, calling it the “most impactful, bipartisan legislative session for the reason that Nice Recession.”
However, he insisted, there’s extra work to be carried out.
“Giddy up!” he urged lawmakers.
Associated: Full textual content of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s remaining State of the State speech
He stated Coloradans ought to determine if extra tax cash is required to pay for the state’s infrastructure — “it’s time to go to the voters” — including that “we will’t innovate our means out of site visitors jams with out the sources.”
He pointed to conservative communities, like El Paso County and Fort Morgan, that voted for larger taxes in 2017 as proof individuals are able to loosen their purse strings.
Hickenlooper additionally known as for extra money to be devoted to schooling.
“Immediately, in nearly each a part of Colorado, ZIP code nonetheless determines your instructional consequence,” he stated. “And that determines your financial consequence. This wants to alter.”
Hickenlooper spoke at size in regards to the plight of rural Colorado, singling out points equivalent to trainer shortages, jobs and rural broadband, in addition to a hidden monetary pressure that’s steadily eroding the flexibility of rural communities to pay for public providers. Subsequent yr, the Gallagher Modification will set off additional reductions to property tax charges throughout the state, offering property tax reduction to the Entrance Vary however squeezing rural governments and college districts which might be already struggling financially.
Untangling the difficult interaction between Gallagher, the Taxpayer’s Invoice of Rights and the state’s constitutional accountability to finance faculties has lengthy been considered one of Hickenlooper’s prime objectives. It’s additionally one that continues to be unfulfilled as he enters his remaining time period.
On Thursday, he known as for lawmakers to “defend our rural communities” by addressing the “intense, destructive affect” of Gallagher — however stopped in need of endorsing a particular proposal on what’s a thorny political concern that can seemingly require a constitutional change.
On financial improvement, the governor known as for an enlargement of apprentice applications, one thing he has lengthy been pushing for. And he advocated for the continued enlargement of renewable power, at the same time as Republicans are pushing to refocus the state Power Workplace on carbon-based fuels like coal and fuel and lower its funds by $1 million.
“What’s it the critics don’t like?” he requested. “Is it the cleaner air or the decrease utility payments?”
Hickenlooper additionally dipped his toe into the sexual harassment controversy on the statehouse. Three state lawmakers — Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, and Republican Sens. Jack Tate and Randy Baumgardner — are going through ongoing investigations following complaints from ladies about their conduct.
“Let’s pledge right here and now that we are going to not tolerate sexual harassment in Colorado,” he stated.
This can be a growing story that can be up to date.