Guv assures Club 20 on jobs, water

DENVER — Western Slope business, civic and government leaders met with state lawmakers Thursday in their annual sojourn to the state Capitol.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, House Speaker Frank McNulty and other high-ranking state officials all told members of Club 20 the same thing: They’re trying to find ways to reduce government spending and help encourage businesses to begin hiring again.

“The issues that we’re talking about are those exact same kitchen-table issues,” McNulty said. “How do we make sure that we have a budget that works? How do we make sure that we’re doing what he can to help Coloradans get back to work?”

The Highlands Ranch Republican hopes to do some of that by requiring the Legislature to use a revenue estimate for the state’s budget that is routinely less than legislative economists predict.

That way, government will end up spending less, focus on being smaller and eliminate the need for last-minute cuts if revenues are less than predicted.

Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, said lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle are focusing on the same thing: streamlining government and creating jobs.

“But wealth creation and job creation really is a function of the private sector, and if we can track together in that same length, it will be better for the state,” he said. “I realize that sounds like 30,000-foot political platitudes, but they are not. They are the framework for us.”

Club 20 members’ questions of lawmakers centered on such things as water, energy and government red tape.

Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards questioned Hickenlooper about his plans to protect the state’s water supplies and not try to transfer water over the Continental Divide in their push to create more jobs in thirsty Front Range cities.

Hickenlooper said since the 2003 drought, the same year he became Denver’s mayor, the 1.2 million customers of Denver Water reduced their consumption by 35 percent.

“The new head of Denver Water and the new Denver mayor are focused to get that down to 50 percent,” he said. “That’s not the whole solution, but I think we can get the other urban areas to use that same sense of frugality, that we don’t need to have bluegrass lawns everywhere and we don’t need to water them three days a week.”

Hickenlooper said he won’t sacrifice the state’s agricultural industry or the push for new jobs just so cities can grow larger.


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