Election 2018News

Republican Doug Robinson rips Hickenlooper’s ‘myopic focus on spending’ in address

Author: Ernest Luning - January 15, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson. talks politics on Aug. 8, 2017, in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson unloaded some harsh criticism for the man he wants to replace, calling term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s final State of the State address the embodiment of what Robinson, a former investment banker, calls the Colorado state government’s problem with spending.

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s address betrays the ‘spend-first’ mentality that has become rampant in our state Capitol,” Robinson said in a statement. “Of the 12 times Gov. Hickenlooper mentioned specific funding amounts, 11 came without any mention of outcomes.”

And that, Robinson said, “cuts to the heart of the problem with state government. Our leaders speak about spending as if spending itself is the accomplishment. But spending is only valuable if it accomplishes a goal. In business, we start with goals, not spending. We ask ourselves what we’re trying to accomplish, then ask ourselves how we can achieve these goal with the money we have.”

In an interview with Colorado Politics last summer, a few months after he got in the crowded GOP primary race, Robinson said he would bring to state government the skills he developed over a career advising businesses how to grow, raise capital and work with other companies. (Robinson, a nephew of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, founded Denver-based St. Charles Capital, sold it to consulting giant KPMG a few years ago and stepped down from running it earlier this year to run for governor.)

“Some guiding principles for me have been what I call the three A’s,” he told Colorado Politics in the earlier interview. “’Analyze’ — get as much data as possible to understand what the solutions are; then it’s ‘allocating’ scarce resources; then ‘aligning’ people around that vision in order to have the political or other will to get it done.”

It’s the same critique Robinson applied to Hickenlooper’s address.

“As Coloradans, we all want the best roads, schools, and jobs for our state. But before our leaders go asking taxpayers for a funding boost, they need to make sure that there’s a plan for how that money will be spent. If the governor asks taxpayers to approve an increase in the gas tax, he ought to have tangible, measurable goals in place for how that will fix our roads,” Robinson said.

To be sure, when a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers put together legislation last year that would have put a tax hike on the ballot to pay for transportation, the bill included specific projects and timetables. That legislation died in a Republican-controlled committee over objections the state should allocate its current revenue better before asking voters for more — the crux of the discussion already underway this session over the same question.

It’s clear which side Robinson takes in the debate.

In his response to Hickenlooper’s speech, Robinson said the governor’s “actions thus far and his myopic focus on spending in his address demonstrate this hasn’t been the case. During Hickenlooper’s tenure, (the Colorado Department of Transportation) spent $150 million on new offices for themselves; meanwhile, their maintenance cost per mile has steadily increased over the last 10 years. Which goal was that accomplishing?

“Coloradans are depending on our leaders to be thoughtful in their approach to the state budget. Our legislators have to be committed to cutting costs before they add to the financial burden of Coloradans.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.