Colorado is, for many, a promised land. That’s why people keep coming here, of course. But can our state live up to the promise?
That’s the question that Colorado Politics put to a diverse group of longtime, prominent voices from across Colorado’s wide-ranging landscape.
We asked them to “imagine a great Colorado” and to share with us how we can achieve their vision. Name some worthy goals, in other words, and set some steps we might take to arrive at them.
Their responses covered a lot of bases, befitting their various walks of life and divergent political views. Yet some common threads emerged. Like the need to secure water — semi-arid Colorado’s original, most contested and arguably most prized natural resource. Colorado’s other natural wonders, not surprisingly, and the need to be good stewards over them, also came up more than once.
Another recurring theme of a very different sort was what several of our contributors maintain is a particularly bitter, acrimonious and unyielding strain of partisanship that they say has overtaken Colorado politics. This dynamic stands in the way of progress in addressing a host of the state’s most pressing needs and desirable goals.
Several of our authors take up the seemingly never-ending quandary of what to do about our state government’s fiscal constraints — love ‘em or hate ‘em — imposed in significant measure by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, in the Colorado Constitution. Reflecting the longtime standoff between ardent admirers and caustic critics of this voter-enacted policy — in a perennially purple state — some of the contributors we tapped for our exchange of ideas espouse decidedly opposing views of TABOR.
While none of these perspectives purports to offer anything close to a definitive solution for the challenges the authors point out, they do provide a glimpse at the public-policy priorities of some Colorado thought leaders. The hope is that their observations could inspire action at some point.
Read on and see if you agree with the seven sages we consulted. They are, in no particular order: a former lieutenant governor; a distinguished historian; an eastern plains wheat farmer who served as state treasurer and state Senate majority leader; a former mayor and one-time state Senate president; the Senate’s outgoing minority leader; an esteemed Four Corners water and resources lawyer who served a decade in the Legislature; and a veteran Colorado newsman.
Read their responses below. Are they on the money? Did any miss their mark? After you read their take, be sure to give us yours: Email Opinion@ColoradoPolitics.com.
By emphasizing investment in our future, we will provide the jobs and business opportunities for individuals and families to prosper.
A great Colorado must protect, conserve and preserve its water, savor its public lands, honor its rural areas and revamp TABOR.
Colorado’s next governor will have an opportunity to touch the lives of 5 million citizens and the responsibility to care for our land and water.
Lawmakers care more about their tribal ideology than what’s good for the people.
When you take up an assignment to “imagine a great Colorado,” you confront the priority of forging, deepening and sustaining a better relationship between the rural and urban sectors of this state.
Coloradans can pass on our Western spirit to future generations by calling a truce to culture wars and insisting that our government institutions remain accountable.