Gov. John Hickenlooper issued his last State of the State speech Thursday, telling Colorado lawmakers one last time to “giddy up!”
The Democrat spent his time before state senators and representatives talking about what was accomplished since he was elected in 2010. Hickenlooper also outlined what he’d like to tackle in the remaining 364 days of his administration.
Here are some of the takeaways from his speech Thursday:
On the economy:
“If you haven’t lived in Colorado long, you might be tempted to think that the state you see today was inevitable,” Hickenlooper said. “But when we first met in this room, our economy was in disarray. We had just ended the worst year for job seekers in generations.”
We were 26th in unemployment and 40th in job growth. Nearly 400,000 Coloradans were unemployed or underemployed. And tens of thousands more dropped out of the workforce, the governor said.
“So we did what Coloradans do. We rolled up our sleeves, and we got to work,” he said. “We shattered unemployment records, tourism records, and hosted world-class cultural and music events.”
“We created the country’s first and best methane regulations by bringing the environment community of nonprofits and the oil and gas industry. We brought together the entire state to create a water plan that secures food production. We protected the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species in the West, and developed an electric vehicle infrastructure spanning 7,000 miles,” Hickenlooper said.
“We cut or modified almost half of our rules and regulations. And in doing so, saved businesses nearly $8 million and over 2 million hours last year,” the governor said.
“We need our friends in Washington (D.C.) to finally move past the tired fight over the Affordable Care Act. It’s not perfect, and we need to strengthen it in lots of ways, but it has helped reduce our uninsured rate by half,” Hickenlooper said.
“About 600,000 Coloradans — many from rural parts of the state — now have coverage. They didn’t before.
“However, we can also all agree that America spends too much on healthcare and doesn’t get much for it,” he said.
“It strains one’s ability to love where they live when they can’t afford the price of a home or even rent near the jobs and communities they care about,” Hickenlooper said. “While many conversations around affordable housing are confined to the Front Range, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority has supported housing projects all across Colorado. They’ve invested over $13 billion across the state.
“We need to increase our affordable housing tax credits by 50 percent — these are matching funds that work only with local investment,” the governor added. “If we believe private enterprise is part of the solution, CHFA is one of the answers.”
“We were the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. … While doing so we’ve helped create a roadmap for other states,” Hickenlooper said.
“By the way, I don’t think any of us are wild about Washington telling us what’s good for us. We expect the federal government will respect the will of Colorado voters,” the governor said.
Hickenlooper also boasted about the state using marijuana taxes for a homeless initiative.
“We helped people save their own lives,” he said.
On sexual harassment:
Hickenlooper said his 2018 legislative agenda is an opportunity to “recommit ourselves to honor and respect our colleagues and uphold the dignity of our offices.”
“Let’s pledge here and now that we will not tolerate sexual harassment in the state of Colorado,” the governor said. The remarks received a standing ovation.
“It is time to go to the voters,” Hickenlooper said.
“Coloradans spend hundreds of extra dollars a year per car on repairs and operating costs as a result of bad road conditions. We waste dozens of hours a year in traffic,” the governor said.
“Not only do we under-fund maintenance by more than $200 million
dollars per year, but we also have a project list of $9 billion dollars. Total needs are estimated to be $25 billion dollars by 2040. And that’s all on top of CDOT’s existing budget,” Hickenlooper said.
“We need to be even more ambitious. It’s time we look at a long-term solution with a sustainable funding source. There’s broad agreement — across party lines. Coloradans deserve the opportunity to vote on whether we need new resources and where they should come from,” he added.
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