Hickenlooper, the craft brewer, decides to keep his second State of the State lite.
He encouraged creativity, good health and entrepreneurship (the most frequent mention of the less controversial term than capitalist in State of the State history), but offered few legislative proposals. A planned bike ride on the high plains has nice aesthetics, but is mostly symbolism and not substance. His few policy proposals pleased the Republicans. Reforming state personnel procedures, developing rules for teacher evaluations and privatizing Pinnacol Assurance are mostly conservative positions.
His only proposal of controversy was for liberals. Civil unions legislation was already drafted by Democratic legislators and would have been introduced with or without the Governor’s support. But, Democrats need Hickenlooper to protect their interests from the Republican House majority and to support a few high-profile goals, like civil unions.
Of course, the Governor’s low key and mostly aspirational speech reflects the reality of the public’s current lack of interest in more government, the dearth of funds and a divided legislature.
Some of Hickenlooper’s most active initiatives are administrative actions. Like President Obama, Hickenlooper appears to be downplaying legislative involvement for his version of administrative self-help, such as cutting red tape and consolidating early childhood programs.
The lack of an active legislative strategy would normally provide an opportunity for legislators to take the lead on their agendas, but the divided partisan control and election year gridlock may negate that.
Hickenlooper lite may be what a de-leveraging economy and stifled politics calls for. It’s short on policy and long on style, self-help and the aesthetics of governance.
See 9News: Hickenlooper focuses on jobs, economy in State of the State