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Governor highlights need to fix Colorado roads in State of the State address

DENVER -- Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his annual State of the State address to lawmakers Thursday, asking them to finally send a transportation package to voters.

"Six years, and almost 400,000 new jobs later, we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in Colorado’s history and the state of our state is strong," Hickenlooper told the joint session of the General Assembly.

Hickenlooper emphasized the need to fix the state's roads if Colorado is to remain competitive with neighboring states.

"Over the next decade, Colorado has $9 billion of unmet transportation needs, and that need will only grow. Voters are tired of us kicking the can down the road because they know it’s going to land in a pothole," Hickenlooper said.

Others issues the governor discussed during his speech included more broadband access, education funding and a crackdown on marijuana that is grown here but ends up in other states illegally.

Hickenlooper also asked lawmakers to appropriate some marijuana revenues to address homeless rates.

"There’s no question that marijuana and other drugs -- in combination with mental illness or other disabling conditions -- are essential contributors to chronic homelessness. Tax revenue from marijuana sales can and should be used to help those who fall through the cracks," Hickenlooper said.

Republican House Leader Patrick Neville said Democrats should prioritize spending before sending voters a tax increase proposal.

"Let's show it's a top priority," Neville said. "Our budget grows more and more each year. We have $1 billion more than last year. Why aren't we funding it all right now."

During a one-on-one conversation, Hickenlooper was asked how much of a tax increase he envisioned.

"I don't want to step on the toes of the legislature, they don't like that, but whether it's the sales tax or the gas tax I don't think it has to be a big tax," he said.