DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper gives his State of the State address on Thursday and he sat down Wednesday with CBS4 Political Specialist to talk about priorities.
It’s all about jobs. Last year the budget was the focus, with education cut hundreds of millions of dollars.
The governor told Boyd this year the state is in a better place, but still not a good place. He talked about where the challenges will be and hinted at what’s in his State of the State.
“I came in last year and I really didn’t know my way to the bathroom,” Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper not only knows his way around the Capitol this year, he knows who the players are and what makes them tick, which as he points out, has implications for how he’ll govern.
“A lot of what I did last year was really trying to listen,” he said.
This year he says he’ll be more involved more often on the legislative side. Take civil unions for same sex couples, for example.
“If it was up to me, I would go back to the ballot, because as I hear people talking out in the community, I hear many, many more people who are optimistic about civil unions and see the purpose of it.”
But the governor made it clear where the state’s focus is.
“Our priority has to be jobs.”
It may be a harbinger of his State of the State, which he was still working on Wednesday evening.
He said Colorado’s draw — its brand — is its ability to bridge the kind of partisan divide that’s paralyzed Congress.
“The CEOs of a lot of these corporations commonly say this is what they like about Colorado; ‘You guys all work together.’ “
But he admits an election year could change that dynamic as three state lawmakers are running for Congress.
“Isn’t it amazing? Why does anyone want to go to Congress? I shouldn’t say that,” he joked. “Again, this my first election year in the state Capitol, but from what people say it becomes more politics, more mischief.”
The budget is always a battle. The governor is not ruling out a tax increase, but says state government needs to get a lot leaner first.
“Then you can say, ‘Do I need more money?’ “
He says he’s optimistic as he starts his second year in office, but the only prediction he’s making for now is the outcome of Saturday’s Broncos-Patriots game.
“I think it will be a good scoring game — 31-28 Broncos. I think they’re going to surprise them.”
As for surprises at the Capitol this year, Hickenlooper says look for fights over small budget items. For example, last year controversy erupted over a proposal to end a free breakfast program for needy children to save about $100,000.
This year it’s a property tax exemption for seniors that causing a stir. The governor wants to suspend it, but Republicans say, “no way.”