Ritter Cranks Up Energy, Education, Family Planning

Gov. Bill Ritter talked more about his Colorado Promise this week, and also drew laughter upon delivering his first official speech to members of both houses of the Colorado Legislature.

“My children were asking about this speech, and I said ‘it’s the State of the State,” Ritter said. “They said, ‘Dad, you’ve only been governor for two days.’ “

Rather than reflecting on a past year in government, Ritter turned his focus on the messages he heard on the campaign trail – from people in Crowley County, “where there are no doctors,” from people with no health insurance and farmers who want to build wind farms.

He also laid out an ambitious agenda – including announcing he is sticking by his campaign promise to restore state funding for pregnancy prevention and family planning programs, which were cut by former Gov. Bill Owens back in 2001. The declaration drew a long and sustained ovation from many lawmakers and observers.

Ritter also expressed his “eagerness” to receive a legislative bill to double the requirements set by Amendment 37, the landmark law that Colorado voters passed in 2004 that requires increasing the amount of renewable resources in electricity to 10 percent by 2015.

Yet the governor underscored his desire to work toward building “new partnerships,” particularly in health care, transportation and human services.

“I start with a simple promise to all of you: I will always listen,” Ritter said. “I will always seek your cooperation and thoughtful commitment to meaningful solutions. We won’t always see eye to eye. But from me you will always get a responsible debate, and not partisan rhetoric. I ask you for the same, regardless of whether there’s a D or an R after your name.

“As governor, my district is rural and urban. It’s agricultural and industrial. It is Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated. It is small business, big business and working families. It is wealthy, and it is poor. It stretches from Springfield to Cortez, from Dinosaur to Julesburg and includes every community in between.”

During the 40-minute speech, delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives to lawmakers, newly-announced cabinet members, the State Board of Education and other officials, Ritter highlighted an agenda that calls for, among other proposals, a heavy emphasis on energy, including a 20 percent improvement in electricity efficiency.

He underscored health care