DENVER – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s final State of the State speech is likely to focus on infrastructure needs, education, and rural priorities like expanding broadband networks and health care initiatives.
Hickenlooper, who is term-limited after this year, is expected to talk about what he sees as his successes over his first seven years in office, which he says include an improved economy, but also about continuing what he sees as momentum he’s built over his time in office.
He said during a briefing last week that he sees lower unemployment and increasing jobs as things he focused on most since he took office, along with bringing startups and technology business to Colorado. He will likely talk about his successes in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, and the expansion of charter schools in the state.
Hickenlooper said at the same briefing he also wants to work harder this year to “listen a little harder to see what people are saying.”
The governor noted that there was much to get done during his final year, which include addressing a massive transportation and infrastructure backlog, education improvements, and rural initiatives that he hopes can bolster the rural-urban divide.
“Our budget amendments have continued to focus on the state’s priorities. I think infrastructure, education, increasing the reserve, making sure we’re ready for when things go down,” Hickenlooper said of his legislative priorities for his last year in office.
“I’ve never appreciated the image of a lame duck. Over the next 11 months, everything I do is going to be criticized by somebody, and half the time it’s going to be my own party,” Hickenlooper said during last week’s briefing. “I think that the goal is here—and when I say it, I mean it—I need to listen a little harder to exactly what [Republicans’] concerns are. Ask them to say it in different ways—maybe I’m not hearing it right.”
Hickenlooper is also expected to address the state pension system, whose economic outlook is suddenly in question over the past several months, and will also likely talk about the ongoing saga involving Colorado’s legal marijuana programs and new enforcement guidance from the Justice Department.
The 2018 legislative session kicked off Wednesday, as Republicans and Democrats laid out their agendas.