El Paso County commissioners happy with governor's order on unfunded mandates

January 11, 2011

One of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s first acts in office Tuesday was to issue four executive orders, one of which prohibits state departments from handing down unfunded mandates to Colorado municipalities.

El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said she’s “thrilled” by the order.

“It sends a message that the governor understands the impact that decisions at the state level affect the taxpayers,” Clark said. “It doesn’t preclude the Legislature from passing unfunded mandates, unless he decides to veto all of them. That would be the one step that’s still in question.”

State Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said he empathizes with Clark.

“We don’t want to kick the funding can down the road and put funding problems on local governments,” Waller said.

Hicklenlooper’s order states that it’s “intended only to improve intergovernmental operations,” and can’t be used as a foundation for any legal challenge to state policies.

Two of the other orders focused on economic development. One establishes three international marketing groups in Japan, Mexico and Canada to promote Colorado’s tourism industry.

The other requires the Office of Economic Development and International Trade to develop 14 plans for economic recovery and report to the General Assembly.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton said she’s not happy with the latter order because it unnecessarily expands the role of state government.

The fourth order creates an Education Leadership Council, which is an extension of a blue ribbon education commission established under Gov. Bill Ritter. The council will explore ways to improve Colorado’s education system and recommend possible reforms to the Legislature. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, also executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, will chair the council.

Contact the writer 476-4825.

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