Governor Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address early on Thursday, January 12th to the Colorado General Assembly. Primary to his speech and building from his address to the Commuting Solutions and the Northwest Chamber Alliance 8th Annual Legislative Breakfast the previous week, Hickenlooper reinforced the necessity for greatly increased infrastructure spending, describing it as essential to Colorado’s future. As reported in the Denverite, he also emphasized the need for us to “chart our own course” in terms of the state operating independently of the Federal government. He was quoted as saying, “But in Colorado, we’ve always been trailblazers, and now, more than ever, we need to move forward, chart our own course and focus on results. Because Colorado deserves our best efforts. And history has its eyes on us.”
Offering further details around the state’s transportation issues, Hickenlooper underscored the $9 billion deficit in unmet transportation needs without any form of gas tax increase since 1992. He reportedly asked, “…who loses healthcare or what schools have to close to add a mile of highway”?
He continued, “Whether it’s new revenue, simplifying or replacing old tax streams, or a combination of both. We can find a solution that clearly spells out to Coloradans exactly what they’re getting and how the money will be spent and how that funding can benefit rural and urban communities, support local needs and statewide projects and balance transit options with highway expansions.”
Other major topics central to his address were education funding, rural economic development, marijuana, health insurance, behavioral health and broadband. Referencing the latter, Hickenlooper reportedly acknowledged that high-speed internet should be considered critical infrastructure in the same manner as the highway system.
“Infrastructure is more than laying new roads and expanding transit. It’s running the fiber and deploying new technologies for reliable, affordable internet in every part of the state. Businesses should be able to open their doors wherever they want; especially in smaller communities.”
To that effect, Hickenlooper announced the creation of a broadband office to try and increase statewide coverage from 70 to 85 percent coverage by the end of his tenure.
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