Hickenlooper’s State of the City highlights municipal successes

DENVER – Mayor John Hickenlooper Tuesday used his State of the City address to draw attention to numerous policy successes due to initiatives and reforms passed under his administration (see video clip).

“Our team – in fact, all city employees – challenged the status quo to demonstrate that government can do more with less,” said Hickenlooper, the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. “We focused on jobs and helping the unemployed. We built a foundation for the future that includes support for small businesses, better education for our kids, a healthier and cleaner environment, and a modern transportation system.”

The mayor’s main focus was on efforts by his administration to bolster Denver’s economy. He lauded the news that two green technology companies– SMA solar and R.E. Power – along with a major health technology company, DeVita, announced plans for major expansions into the city, bringing with them many high-paying jobs. In addition to large business, he pointed toward municipal development loans and workforce training programs that have helped to strengthen small business.

Hickenlooper also addressed social policy successes in the city, such as the Denver Scholarship Foundation for low-income students and the 10-year plan to end homelessness called Denver’s Road Home. By reducing chronic homelessness in the city of Denver by 60 percent, the city has saved $3.1 million dollars by reducing the number of homeless people in detox and jail.

Upgrades to transportation infrastructure received a mention, as Hickenlooper pointed out the 49,000 jobs and $3 billion dollars the city will receive after renovating Union Station. He praised the city’s “two-wheel revolution,” known as Denver B-Cycle, that is the country’s first large-scale, cit-wide bike-sharing program.

However, Hickenlooper did mention that his administration had overseen shrinkage in the size of city government.

“There are just so many ways that Denver is growing – transportation, education, job creation – but there is one way that Denver is shrinking. City government is actually smaller today than it was eight years ago,” Hickenlooper said. “Since we came into office, we have cut approximately $350 million out of annual budgets, while more efficiently delivering core services to the public.”

Taran Volckhausen is a freelance journalist who primarily writes about the environment, politics, and drug policy. His work has appeared on National Geographic, Christian Science Monitor, The Intercept, Mongabay, among others. He is also a former editor at Colombia Reports. Twitter: @tvolckhausen

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