On Jan. 9, Governor Hickenlooper addressed a joint session of Colorado’s General Assembly to present the State of the State. As with many speeches, filled with platitudes and praise, it was short on substance. Contrary to my experience during the 2013 legislative session, where rural issues were forgotten and Republican bills were killed, the governor spoke about a new era of bipartisanship and a renewed focus on rural Colorado. I would like to take a moment and discuss my concerns with his speech.
The Governor mentioned improvements in rural Colorado and specifically referenced $3 million in grants to rural areas of the state. I appreciate the investment of $3 million to parts of Colorado that have largely been ignored, especially by this administration, but one has to question the wisdom of the policies he supported in 2013. With input from foreign special energy interests, the Governor and the liberal majority raised the renewable energy standard, which will cause rates to skyrocket for ratepayers in rural Colorado. Unfortunately, we may never know the full cost of this mandate, but one can easily surmise that it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments to meet this new standard.
The Governor also quoted numbers of new jobs in rural Colorado, a drop in unemployment numbers and a better state of the economy. This may be true for the city and suburban areas around Denver, but I am not sure what parts of Colorado he is referring to. Economic development has been stagnant at best, and in many cases we see a consistent loss of jobs in eastern and western Colorado.