Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to constituents from southern Colorado Wednesday about the future of the vacant Fort Lyon correctional facility, new regulations over the oil and gas industry and the possibility of losing Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to a federal post.
About 50 members of Action 22 — a group that represents 22 counties in southern Colorado including El Paso County — spent the day talking to lawmakers and policy experts during their ninth annual day at the capitol.
“We still have not found a solution for Fort Lyon although we continue to work on it relentlessly,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told the group.
He said turning the closed prison in Las Animas into a service center for homeless veterans has real potential.
“We are going back to the joint budget committee, back to the legislature, to say give us $3 million over seven years to try,” Hickenlooper said.
When asked about the line between the economic boon of the oil and gas industry in southern Colorado and the potential for an environmental disaster, he said his administration is striking the right balance.
“I think we’re getting to a good place because most of the oil and gas companies hate me right now and the environmentalists hate me,” Hickenlooper said.
As for rumors that Garcia, former president of Pikes Peak Community College and Colorado State University – Pueblo, will head to Washington D.C. as the new Secretary of Labor, Hickenlooper hinted Garcia is a top runner.
“We’ll see whether we get to keep him,” Hickenlooper said, divulging that Garcia had flown to Washington D.C. for a one-on-one meeting with President Barack Obama. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a better person.”
Contact Megan Schrader