Hickenlooper asks for help transforming Colorado

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper is asking everyone in Colorado to help transform the state.

During his first state of the state speech today, Hickenlooper said he considered every Coloradan a member of his administration.

His call for a non-partisan approach to improving the state drew a long standing ovation from state lawmakers assembled in the House of Representatives to listen to the speech.

“A lot of people don’t think the state can operate in a nonpartisan way for the benefit of Colorado. We don’t agree,” Hickenlooper said.

Without going into details, the new governor also sought to reassure lawmakers that he’s prepared to help them slash spending to balance the state checkbook.

“This is not my first time at the deficit rodeo,” Hickenlooper said, recounting budget problems he faced in business.

Hickenlooper laid out ideas to cut red tape for private businesses. One of his ideas: A new requirement for lawmakers to consider how regulations affect industry before approving those regulations. The suggestion got a hearty cheer from GOP lawmakers.

The new governor also suggested that lawmakers look at the state budget over several years, not just a single fiscal year. Hickenlooper didn’t explain how exactly that would improve Colorado’s finances, but he promised more details soon.

“Our state constitution requires us to balance the budget annually. We can do better,” Hickenlooper said.

Without saying exactly what should be cut, Hickenlooper warned, “we are going to engage in very direct, very pragmatic conversations” about what state government can and cannot afford to do.

Hickenlooper also said he’d work to improve customer service for taxpayers dealing with state government.

Hickenlooper’s vagueness won him praise from lawmakers in both parties.

“You didn’t see him, come out and say, ‘This is exactly what I want you to do,’” Democratic Rep. Mark Ferrandino, head of the budget-writing Joint Budget Committee.

New Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty was even more blunt when he explained after the speech why Republicans clapped so often at Hickenlooper’s suggestions, especially his plans to look twice at new regulation.

“These are the exact things we’ve been talking about,” McNulty said.


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