Hickenlooper to emphasize bipartisanship, recovery in annual address

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Gov. John Hickenlooper at the State of the State address Jan. 9, 2014.

DENVER — In his fourth annual State of the State address Thursday morning, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to speak about the state’s ongoing recovery, both from last fall’s devastating floods and and the prolonged economic downturn.

The speech is an opportunity for Hickenlooper, heading into a reelection year, to hasten his own political recovery after a year that saw his own approval ratings plummet as he presided over a Democrat-controlled legislature.

The likely theme: public service above politics.

As he has in recent interviews, Hickenlooper will probably cite the state’s response to last fall’s catastrophic flooding as an example of his own leadership and the ability of organizations, individuals and state agencies to put differences aside to join forces for the benefit of the state.

He’s hoping that Republicans and Democrats can follow suit and find common ground during the 2014 legislative session.

Also look for Hickenlooper, who ran as a business-minded moderate, to focus on the state’s economic recovery, to note the addition of 170,000 jobs since he took office and his efforts to recruit new businesses to Colorado.

“We’ve had great results the last three years,” Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia told FOX31 Denver Thursday morning. “We’re fourth best in the country [in adding jobs]. We were 40th in 2010, so we want to continue to create economic opportunities for all Coloradans, both urban and rural.”

The governor will also outline his budget priorities, which include directing rising state revenues toward higher education, proposed improvements in service and wait times at Colorado Dept. of Motor Vehicles offices and tax breaks and incentives for businesses and economic development.

It’s also a near certainty that Hickenlooper will address the spike in partisanship after last year’s divisive legislative session.

Republicans have attacked Hickenlooper for not reining in Democratic majorities at the Capitol, for signing off on controversial gun laws, changes to the state’s election laws and an increased renewable energy standard for rural electricity providers.

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