By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Gov.-elect Jared Polis is the first gay governor in the country and he is Jewish, two things that didn’t come up much during the campaign. Maybe with good reason.
In a wide-ranging interview with CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd, Polis talked about security concerns, “I think we live in a day and age where we have a level of public discourse that’s getting to danger levels. I think part of my challenge as governor will be how do bring together and heal this divisive rhetoric.”
That is one of the new governor’s many challenges. Unlike his predecessor, Polis isn’t shying away from controversy.
While he opposed a ballot measure increasing set-backs for oil and gas drilling, he says he supports more local control, comparing fracking to marijuana.
“No city is forced to have marijuana dispensaries and, if they do have them, they choose how many to license and how to run that program and, of course, oil and gas affects our quality of life and it’s just a question of how and where to do it and I think we have differing ways of incorporating it in different communities.”
On transportation funding, he was also candid. He said he would not go back to voters for a sales tax hike and wouldn’t go into debt for roads, but was open to increasing fees.
“The only two that have been ruled out are sales tax and bonding without any new revenue. That doesn’t mean anything is ruled in either.”
The same goes for health care, “We are open to all solutions from the left and the right to help reduce those costs.”
That means a Medicare-for-all option – a central part of his campaign – is not a certainty.
All day kindergarten is a must-have, and Polis says it will happen as early as next year. He also wants strings attached to education funding.
“We should be able to have a say in making sure the money reaches the classroom, generally that means two things. It either means teacher pay or smaller class size. That’s what reaching the classroom means as opposed to being intercepted by administrators or other services along the way.”
Polis has also promised free preschool and he says he is working on public-private partnerships but that will take some time.
One decision he says he will not make until after he is sworn-in is whether to allow the execution of death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, saying he wants to review files and talk to families.
He has an ambitious agenda, but Polis ran on big bold ideas and he says he plans to follow through.
“It’s drinking from a fire hose. The minute you’re elected there’s no holiday, there’s no honeymoon. We have to recruit an entire team to run state government January 8.”