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Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Robinson releases legislative priorities as session starts

Author: Ernest Luning - January 10, 2018 - Updated: January 10, 2018

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

Republican Doug Robinson, one of nine candidates in a primary for governor, on Tuesday released his legislative priorities as Colorado lawmakers were set to kick off the General Assembly’s 2018 regular session.

On the retired investment advisor’s list: long-term funding for roads, adequate career training for students, solutions to the opioid epidemic and long-term stability for the state’s public pension fund.

Legislative leaders and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a term-limited Democrat, have included the same items, along with a few others, on their agendas for the 120-day session.

House and Senate leadership deliver their opening day speeches on Wednesday after calling the General Assembly to order. Hickenlooper is set to lay out his priorities Thursday in the traditional “state of the state” address.

“This year’s session is an especially important one for Colorado,” Robinson said in a statement. “Many of our state’s greatest issues are reaching a critical breaking point that simply cannot be ignored for another year. There are a number of time-sensitive issues on the legislative agenda this year, and I’m calling on our leaders to ensure these issues make it to the top of their priority list.”

Here’s Robinson’s list:

“First, our legislative leaders must find a solution to assure long-term funding for our roads. Governor Hickenlooper’s reversal of his initial decision not to request any funding for our roads was a good start and I hope the legislature follows through in allocating this funding. Though an important first step, Senate Bill 257 was insufficient in providing the necessary funding for many of our state’s projects. With additional revenues expected as a result of federal tax reform, Colorado leaders must be disciplined in ensuring that transportation gets the long overdue attention it needs.

“Second, Colorado needs to emphasize career-readiness training for our students. Middle-skill job holders are key to Colorado’s long-term economic success, but right now, we’re facing a shortage of skilled construction workers, contractors, and plumbers. Career-readiness training programs helps all parties — giving kids marketable skills they’ll need to succeed, while providing Colorado industries with the skilled workers they demand. Our legislators should expand the pilot program created by HB 1289, and ensure that students across Colorado continue to access to these types of programs.

“Third, our legislators have to get started now passing the recommendations of the opioid study group. I applaud the work done by Senator (Kent) Lambert and this committee, as well as the rest of the bipartisan committee that developed these proposals. The onus is now on the House and Senate to ensure action. The opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities in Colorado, and these bipartisan solutions are our best hope at getting something done.

“Finally, our state leaders have for too long ignored their fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers in Colorado. PERA and Medicaid have ballooned to unmanageable liabilities that threaten to consume Colorado’s budget for years to come. Our legislators must reform the PERA board — beneficiaries of PERA cannot be counted on to be practical arbiters of the pension fund’s future. To continue to ignore these blossoming budgetary crises constitutes gross negligence on the part of our state leaders, and poses serious threats to the future financial health of Colorado.

Robinson pointed to Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, for his leadership in the upper chamber, which is controlled by the GOP. Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, wields the gavel in the House, where Democrats hold the majority.

“In Colorado, our Legislature has a long history of working together to find bipartisan solutions, and I believe, under Senator Grantham, this tradition can continue,” Robinson said.

The other Republicans running for Hickenlooper’s job are: State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III, former state Rep. Victor Mitchell, former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, former Denver County Trump campaign co-chair Steve Barlock and activist Jim Rundberg.

Eight Democrats are running, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and businessman and civic leader Noel Ginsburg.

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. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.