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Gov. Hickenlooper and his Cabinet mark first 100 days in office

Thursday, April 21, 2011 -- Gov. John Hickenlooper marked 100 days in office today by thanking his Cabinet and state employees for their work on behalf of all Colorado residents.

“We worked hard to recruit and hire a very talented and diverse leadership team from the private, public and nonprofit sectors,” Hickenlooper said. “It’s no surprise that they have moved at a high velocity to find ways to improve economic conditions in Colorado and to create jobs. They have also tackled education, health care and water issues.”

The state budget remains one of the Hickenlooper administration’s top priorities.

“We aren’t finished yet,” Hickenlooper said. “We are proud that, unlike many other states, we reached a bipartisan budget deal in a divided General Assembly that puts Colorado on better financial footing. Now it’s time for legislators to approve the budget without partisan issues that threaten to make it even harder to balance in future years.”

The Hickenlooper administration is also working hard to redefine good government, cut red tape and enhance customer service wherever possible.

For example, the Colorado Department of Transportation has begun a comprehensive review of the Department’s rules and is moving forward with updating or repealing several that are either outdated or repetitive, and the Department of Human Services has begun streamlining all applications for public assistance. The Department of Natural Resources is working on legislation that would combine the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation into a new division – a move that will improve efficiency and reduce positions through attrition within the agency.

In one specific case involving the Department of Agriculture, the agency’s Inspection and Consumer Services Division worked with a local pet food company and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to change inspection requirements for raw meat pet food products shipped to California. The solution cut unnecessary regulation and will save the pet food company more than $25,000 a year in inspection costs.

“Change will not come overnight,” Hickenlooper said. “We have used our first 100 days in office to begin laying a foundation that we can build on in the coming months and years. While we are off to a good start, the real measure of success will come when we look back after four years.”

Highlights of the Hickenlooper administration’s first 100 days include:

Economic development

  • Launching a Bottom-up Economic Development Plan that involves all 64 counties in Colorado. The effort has included more than 55 community meeting across the state; more than 8,000 responses to an online survey about economic development; and more than a dozen state agencies. At the same time, the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade has provided technical and financial assistance to 4,492 businesses and helped create or retain 2,967 jobs in Colorado.
  • Hosting a Rural Economic Development Summit with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The summit, held on March 11 at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, attracted more than 300 participants and nine members of Hickenlooper’s cabinet. Meetings focused on topics facing rural communities, including overcoming regulatory hurdles and building on success with energy production, Sustainable Main Streets, small business success stories, food processing, agricultural water, rural healthcare, workforce training and tourism.
  • Collecting data from more than 65 Colorado broadband service providers to support Colorado’s inclusion in the federal government’s National Broadband Map, a step that is necessary for developing effective broadband deployment across the state.
  • Constructing new National Guard Armories/Readiness Centers in Fort Lupton and Grand Junction, providing hundreds of jobs for local construction workers. Additional armories will be built in Windsor and Alamosa.
  • Issuing an Executive Order to create the Governor’s Trade and Tourism Ambassador Program, which is enlisting volunteer ambassadors to spread the word about Colorado, help spur international tourism and export opportunities and bring investment into the state from international countries.

Water

  • Naming a cabinet-level Senior Advisor to the Governor, John Stulp, who is specifically focused on water. Stulp will continue working with Colorado’s agricultural community, developing policies and solutions to how water is managed statewide. He also chairs the Interbasin Compact Committee.
  • Convening a meeting between 65 Israeli and Colorado water officials to share ideas on water policies and technologies given the similar arid environments and water supply issues.
  • Holding the first statewide summit of the nine separate water Basin Roundtables (covering the eight river basins and the Denver area) and the InterBasin Committee. Gov. Hickenlooper directed them to develop a statewide five-year plan on addressing water supply needs in a collaborative, consensus-driven process. More than 300 people participated in the water summit held in March.


Health Care

  • Working with insurers and advocates to ensure children with pre-existing conditions have options when purchasing health insurance, through SB128. When kids have access to insurance, they are healthier, able to learn and succeed in school.
  • Establishing several work groups on small employer needs, data analysis and coordination to advise and assist in planning for the operational needs of the Colorado Health Insurance Exchange.
  • Building with bipartisan legislative support a unique and diverse statewide coalition of businesses, consumers, providers, insurers and brokers to support a bill to create the Colorado Health Benefits Exchange.


Budget and Efficiencies

  • Ordering a Senior Executive Service employee review for all state agencies. The review ensures the state has the most talented people in the right positions.
  • For the budget, using a multi-year view to guide decision making and further planning to investigate how to do a two-year budget in a formal way. A budget including a 4 percent reserve and closing roughly half of the structural gap was approved in a bipartisan deal involving the Joint Budget Committee and leadership in both chambers and is currently working its way through the General Assembly.
  • Consolidating the executive leadership functions at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by naming Christopher Urbina as both the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director.
  • Looking at the unique roles of the field staff within Department of Local Affairs, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Governor’s Energy Office to see where opportunities exist to coordinate or consolidate functions to increase the effectiveness of the services delivered and the efficiency in how those services are delivered.
  • Issuing an Executive Order that makes the state a more effective partner with Colorado counties. The order gives counties more flexibility and restricts unfunded mandates from the state.


Education

  • The Education Commission of the States (ECS) announced in January that Gov. Hickenlooper would become Chair of ECS upon his inauguration. ECS is an interstate compact created in 1965 to improve public education by facilitating the exchange of information, ideas and experiences among state policymakers and education leaders.
  • In a cost-savings move for the state, a bill was introduced and approved by the General Assembly to allow the Lieutenant Governor to also hold a Cabinet position. This legislation allows Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to also serve as Executive Director of the Department of Higher Education, taking advantage of his extensive experience as a past president of both Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pikes Peak Community College. The Lieutenant Governor’s office is now the center for implementing a seamless public education system for Colorado’s youngest learners through high school graduation and beyond.
  • Issuing an Executive Order and developing the Educational Leadership Council to work on literacy by third grade, implementation of the teacher effectiveness law and reducing remediation.