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A Discussion With Colorado Governor Bill Ritter

Bill Ritter isn't afraid of hard work. He's been rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty since he got a full-time job in construction when he was only 14 years old. That blue-collar job funded his college education and a law degree that led him to a new career as Denver's District Attorney and, finally, Governor.

Apr/May 07
As Governor, Ritter is setting out to reconstruct many of Colorado's public policies, from illegal immigration to economic development and from healthcare to transportation infrastructure. The son of a heavy-equipment-operating father and a bookkeeping mother, Ritter understands the need to focus on jobs, the economy, technology, and affordable higher education. Ritter has promised a listening ear, a strong vision, and common-sense solutions for Colorado. Here are his views on issues impacting site selectors.

On education. As Governor, I plan to invest more in - and demand more from - our education system. Education must be the state's number-one priority. It will be my top priority as Governor. I will partner with school districts, communities, educators, and parents to set clear goals and to then reach those goals. For too long, the conversation about education reform has involved accusation and punishment. My administration will stand for opportunity and encouragement for all learners. With stakeholder guidance and input, we will create a plan that will address Colorado's changing job trends; mandate admission standards that will ensure high rates of student success; drive accountability by articulating institution-specific goals; and establish a specific role, scope, and mission statements for each institution.

On the economy. While Colorado is one state, it is composed of five distinct economic regions: the Eastern Plains, San Luis Valley, Western Slope, mountain resort communities, and the Front Range. That is why my plan includes an approach that allows each region to develop a unique economic development strategy, as well as a plan to improve the state's overall economy. My business development plan calls for increasing employment by expanding existing businesses and attracting new ones, strengthening our regional economies, streamlining state government to be more responsive to businesses, investing in education to build our work force, investing in needed infrastructure, and working toward sensible healthcare solutions.

On transportation infrastructure. A sound infrastructure, including a multimodal transportation network, is essential to serving Colorado's growing population and sustaining a vibrant economy. Whether used for commerce, recreation, agriculture, or for getting our children to and from school, a strong and integrated transportation system is vital. The Colorado Department of Transportation and others have spent considerable time and money studying our transportation needs - including more than $100 million on environmental reviews - and plans to improve traffic flow on US 36, I-70, I-25, and US 287. It is now time to make wise use of these investments. As Governor, I will bring a fresh, balanced approach to how we invest in our infrastructure, plan for future growth, and protect the environment. Simply stated, the process for funding our transportation system is antiquated and needs a 21st century overhaul.

On technology infrastructure. For Colorado's communities to thrive and compete for jobs in the information economy, it is critical that its government commit to spurring broadband deployment in all parts of the state. As Governor, I will vault Colorado into the nation's technology elite. I will call on our leaders from industry, government, and academia to create a Governor's Council on Innovation and a Broadband Access Infrastructure Council to evaluate strategies for spurring broadband access. We will determine which areas of the state lack affordable broadband access, and we will reform our current universal service fund to support broadband access for those areas.