Monday, January 15, 2007

So We Have A New Governor

I've only just today been able to get around to reading Gov. Bill Ritter's State of the State Speech. I was, naturally, curious to see if he enumerated a list of priorities reflecting his promise to govern from the middle.

No. Really.

First, the basics. Paragraph 4: Let me also take a minute to thank the previous legislature, former Gov. Owens and former Lt. Gov. Norton for their significant accomplishments. I hope we can keep moving forward.

A bit cursory and perfunctory, but, you know . . . whatever. Let's just say he's not exactly reachinng out.

Paragraph 26: As I approach this job, I start with a simple promise to all of you: I will always listen. I will always seek your cooperation and a thoughtful commitment to meaningful solutions. We won't always see eye to eye. But from me you will always get responsible debate, not partisan rhetoric. I ask you for the same, regardless of whether there's a D or an R after your name.

He goes on in the course of the speech to list eight legislators who have proposed ideas he likes. Seven of the eight are Democrats.

I guess that means he's only 3/4 of the way towards the far left. I guess that's his idea of governing from the center.

Anyway . . .

as to those priorities.

1. The New Energy Economy. His solution: an Executive Order adopting a resolution calling for a 20 percent improvement in the efficiency of electricity use, doubling the renewable energy requirements of Amendment 37, and a Colorado Clean Energy Fund.

2. Health Insurance. His solution: the Colorado Health Plan, a multi-state drug purchasing pool, and significant investment of tobacco settlement dollars (which, by the way, are diminishing faster than expected).

3. Transportation. Solution: A Transportation Summit, to come up with more ideas like FasTracks. I guess he didn't see the same report that showed up on the front page of the Rocky todayRTD is falling behind on key studies required for FasTracks and also is trying to figure out whether the rapid transit system can be built the way it was advertised and for the cost that was promised.

4. Economic Development. Solution: devote 25% of his time to improving economic opportunities in Colorado (though, I suppose, cutting taxes and improving the business climate might fall outside of that 25%).

5. Education. Goals: cut the dropout rate in half within ten years, and cut the "achievement gap" in half in ten years. How? "We're going to listen to our teachers" READ: we're going to let the unions write legislation. Also, there's this line:We need one system that provides meaningful data in a timely fashion so we can improve student learning.READ: we're going to get rid of the CSAP test. Just wait.For a better, more thorough discussion of the education portion of the speech, check in with Ben.

6. Public Safety. Solution: develop programs to cut recidivism. Of course, those already exist, but they're religion-based, so we can't do those.

Six main priorities. Do you notice that there's exactly ONE solution to all of them?

Government.

There is, of course, no way that government can provide for all of the things the Governor wants to do with it. Especially in light of TABOR.

So expect a year-two attempt to eliminate or significantly weaken TABOR.

This speech reads to me like one given by a person comfortable and confident in the power he wields. If you thought the GOP rode herd in its better days, wait until you see how the Democrats respond to control. This could be a scary couple of years.

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