The tenor and tone of the beginning of the administration of Gov. John Hickenlooper and the first session of the 68th Colorado General Assembly have been decidedly positive and should give Colorado citizens a good feeling about how business will be conducted over the next couple of years.
In his inaugural address, his State of the State speech and in a series of meetings conducted over four days throughout Colorado last week, Hickenlooper presented himself as a pragmatic centrist who is committed to reinvigorating Colorado’s economy by gathering community input, streamlining state government and emerging from the recession through a robust, private-sector-driven increase in jobs.
At the same time, legislative leadership from both parties has made it a priority to reiterate the contention that the 2010 elections that produced a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Democratic-controlled Senate were a message from voters to find ways to address Colorado’s problems in a bipartisan, collaborative way. The joint select committee that was formed to draw new congressional district boundaries had its first meeting last week, and highly partisan rhetoric has been kept to a minimum during the first couple weeks of the legislative session.
While these signs point to a session of civil discourse and cooperation on hard issues, it doesn’t mean that both parties will agree on everything, nor should it. There are real differences in how most Republicans and Democrats see the world. The new spirit of cooperation does not change the fact that many bills will be summarily killed on party-line votes in both chambers of the legislature. And that is OK.
Elections have consequences, and a consequence of a split legislature is that bills that are the province of specific political parties or represent causes too closely aligned with one side or the other are destined to fail. And even with pragmatic politicians looking for ways to work together, the prospect of 2012 elections means that both sides will work to walk the fine line of working together to reinvigorate Colorado’s economy while at the same time working to delineate the differences that might lead to election success in the future.
As a state, we’re faced with the difficult challenges of trying to provide necessary services while we address a billion-dollar budget shortfall and work to get our economy back on track. The opening days of our new governor’s tenure and the first legislature with split control since 2003 should make us optimistic that we’re on the right track.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.