DENVER (AP) – The nominee for Colorado’s next lieutenant governor sailed through her first legislative test Wednesday when Democratic health care executive Donna Lynne won bipartisan support in her first confirmation hearing.

Lynne told lawmakers she’d work to improve government efficiency and called on Colorado to consider multi-year budgeting, more like the private sector. She said she’d work on improving employment and protecting small hospitals in rural areas, and she vowed that state agencies in the executive branch would do a better job telling lawmakers what they’re up to.

Donna Lynne (credit: Kaiser Permanente)

Donna Lynne (credit: Kaiser Permanente)

The House committee approved Lynne’s nomination 6-2. She now awaits confirmation by the full House and then the Senate.

Current Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is leaving state government on Friday to run a private higher-education group. Gov. John Hickenlooper nominated Lynne last month.

Lynne, a longtime supporter and political donor to Hickenlooper, currently is executive vice president of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. She previously spent 20 years in New York City government in various posts.

Lynne told lawmakers her experience running complex organizations will help her streamline operations in Colorado. Asked about how Colorado manages its $27 billion annual budget, Lynne suggested the state consider moving to multi-year budgeting.

“We don’t do single-year budgets that almost seem like crisis,” Lynne said of the private sector. The state Legislature, not the executive branch, would have to change budgeting plans, but lawmakers listened with interest to Lynne’s proposal.

The nominee echoed Hickenlooper when asked about Colorado’s tax-limiting Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights , which constrains government spending.

“The people have spoken,” she said. “That is what we live with; we work around it.”

Lynne also said she’d work to protect rural hospitals but that she opposes the proliferation of new hospitals and especially freestanding emergency rooms. The Legislature is currently considering a bill to require freestanding ERs to better disclose fees to patients. Lynne didn’t take a position on the bill.

A Hickenlooper aide said the governor hopes to see Lynne’s confirmation through the House this week and on to the Senate.

– By KRISTEN WYATT, AP Writer

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