Monthly Archives: December 2009

MANY STATE OFFICES TO BE CLOSED THURSDAY AND FRIDAY


 

Many state government offices will be closed Thursday (Dec. 31) as one of eight mandatory furlough days this fiscal year to help cut expenses and keep the state budget balanced during the economic downturn. State offices also will be closed Friday (Jan. 1) in observance of New Year’s Day.

 

State driver’s license offices, the Department of Public Health and Environment’s vital records office, state history museums, Attorney General’s Office, Division of Wildlife Service Centers and administrative offices for executive branch departments will be among the facilities closed Thursday, with about 15,500 employees on unpaid furlough.

 

Colorado State Parks will be open Thursday (except for visitor centers). State troopers will be patrolling the highways. Department of Transportation snow plows and maintenance crews will be working as necessary, and the TrafficOperationsCenter will be running. The state unemployment benefits office, state nursing homes, hospitals and care centers also will be open. The state Judicial Branch and courts, Treasurer’s Office and Secretary of State’s Office will be open as well.

 

This will be the fourth closure day in FY09-10, with the remaining four scheduled for Jan. 15, Feb. 12, April 2 and May 28. The eight furlough days will save taxpayers $27.2 million.

 

 

 

 

GOV. RITTER ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION FUNDING TO STRENGTHEN RURAL HEALTH CARE SERVICES


Gov. Bill Ritter today announced $1 million in grant funding is now available through the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council for projects that support Colorado’s rural health care infrastructure. This is the third cycle of grants through the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Program that will by 2012 deliver a total of $7.5 million to strengthen rural health care services.

 

“These grants will help rural Coloradans get primary care services where they live and work. It is one of my administration’s initiatives to strengthen and mend our state’s tattered safety net and have basic health care services available throughout the state,” said Gov. Ritter. “Affordable and accessible health care keeps our rural communities healthy and vibrant.”

 

Gov. Ritter created the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council through Executive Order (B 007 07) that is responsible for a grant program funded by the UnitedHealth Group. The grant program funds projects that support Colorado’s rural health infrastructure and strengthen the capacity of rural entities to provide primary care services.

 

Only organizations that are located outside of Colorado’s Urbanized Areas and that provide outpatient primary care services – including medical, oral, and mental health services – are eligible to apply. Letters of Intent for the third grant cycle are requested by January 22, 2010; the application deadline is March 11, 2010.  The maximum award amount is $50,000 per applicant.

 

For more information on the Colorado Rural Health Center (CRHC) grant application process and eligibility requirements, visit CRHC’s website at www.coruralhealth.org.

 

GOV. RITTER, LAWMAKERS ANNOUNCE PLAN TO PROTECT NEIGHBORHOODS


LAKEWOOD — Gov. Bill Ritter and state lawmakers today announced a major step forward in tackling Colorado‘s high foreclosure rate, unveiling legislation that will speed up the sale of abandoned homes and protect neighborhoods from vandalism and declining property values.

 

Speaking at a neighborhood community center, Gov. Ritter said the legislation will cut in half the time it takes lenders to sell an abandoned home that’s in foreclosure. This will allow those homes to be re-occupied more quickly so they don’t become a safety hazard, a magnet for vandalism and other crimes and a drain on nearby property values.

 

The bill will be co-sponsored in the upcoming 2010 legislative session by Reps. Jeanne Labuda and Dianne Primavera and Sen. Mike Johnston.

 

“When I took office three years ago, Colorado was already suffering from the foreclosure crisis now gripping the rest of the nation,” Gov. Ritter said. “But working with our partners in the legislature, we took immediate action, including enacting new laws and strengthening the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline.

 

“Today, Colorado no longer has the worst foreclosure rate in the country,” Gov. Ritter said. “Our strategies are working, but our work is far from finished. The legislation we’re announcing today is the next major step forward to help protect neighborhoods, keep families safe and maintain property values.”

 

The legislation will allow lenders to accelerate the amount of time it takes to sell an abandoned home that’s already in foreclosure. While many foreclosure sales take seven to nine months, current law calls for a minimum four-month sale process; the proposed bill would cut that in half to two months. This would dramatically reduce the amount of time an abandoned home would sit unattended and unoccupied.

 

“Abandoned homes facing foreclosure are frequently an eyesore in the neighborhood, and bring down property values of all homes in the area,” said Rep. Labuda. “The current foreclosure process can take months and sometimes years to complete, all while the property sits abandoned. One or two bad homes on a block can certainly destroy a block. This legislation will get homes more quickly occupied, and ensure that even those neighborhoods hit hardest by foreclosure remain vibrant, good places to raise a family and buy a home.”

 

“Homes that sit abandoned and are awaiting foreclosure lower the livability of neighborhoods, reduce property values and marketability, and can increase crime,” Rep. Primavera said. “By cutting the foreclosure proceeding time in half, we can protect our communities by ensuring a great quality of life for families especially during this tough economic time.”

 

“We’ve all seen the negative impacts foreclosed and abandoned homes are having on Colorado‘s economy and neighborhoods,” Sen. Johnston said. “By speeding up the process to sell abandoned homes and getting these homes back on the market, we can prevent crime and declining property values in these neighborhoods and make sure abandoned properties don’t take whole neighborhoods down with them.”

 


 

GOV. RITTER LAUNCHES STRATEGIC REVIEW OF HIGHER-ED FOR COLORADO



Gov. Bill Ritter today kicked off a strategic planning initiative that will assess the state’s higher-education systems and develop a comprehensive roadmap for the future of Colorado‘s 27 public colleges and universities.

 

“We’re tackling some of the biggest challenges facing Colorado head on – K-12 education, energy, transportation and the worst economy since the Great Depression,” Gov. Ritter said. “And now it’s time to turn our attention to higher education, because without question, higher-ed is one of the keys to our recovery and our future. It drives economic growth and it opens doors of opportunity for people all across Colorado.

 

“As we rebuild our economy and position Colorado for strong sustainable growth, we must look beyond just the next year,” the Governor said. “We need to look out 10, 20 and 30 years. And the only way we get there is with a vibrant higher-ed system that can meet the needs of a 21st century Colorado. Our greatest resource in this state is our people and our families, and they deserve nothing less than colleges and universities that are accessible, affordable, accountable and of the highest quality.”

 

Speaking to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and many of the state’s college presidents, Gov. Ritter introduced Jim Lyons and Dick Monfort as the co-chairs of a steering committee that will lead the strategic planning effort. The committee will develop and recommend a master plan for a higher education system that today serves 220,000 students.

 

Monfort spent 20 years in the cattle business, is a vice chairman of the Colorado Rockies and sits on the University of Northern Colorado Board of Trustees. Lyons is a co-chair of the Governor’s Jobs Cabinet and a prominent attorney in Colorado. They will work closely with Rico Munn, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Don Elliman, the governor’s chief operating officer.

 

College and business leaders around Colorado praised today’s launch and the naming of Monfort and Lyons.

 

Colorado‘s system of higher education needs a coherent and comprehensive plan for the future, said CCHE Chairman James Polsfut.  “This planning process will give us a chance to determine what the state wants out of its higher education system and how we can deliver it.”  

 

“A strong higher education system is invaluable to the business community,” said Kelly Brough, CEO and president of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “In order to continue to recruit new businesses and retain the companies we have, we must be able to say that we have a higher education system that can educate and prepare Coloradans for the jobs of today and the future.”

 

“Dick Monfort and Jim Lyons are outstanding people who I have had the pleasure to work with for many years,” said University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson. “They have a deep commitment to higher education and our state and will do a great job leading the study. It’s important that it take a thorough look at all our colleges and universities to ensure we can provide high-quality, accessible and affordable education for all Coloradans. To achieve that, we have to be realistic and deliberate in how we direct our current low funding levels. We also need to look for new revenue streams to sustain our colleges and universities.”

 

“I am very enthused and grateful that Jim Lyons and Dick Monfort have stepped forward in this leadership capacity,” said Joe Blake, chancellor of ColoradoStateUniversity. “I look forward to working with them and being a part of this important process involving the future of public higher education.”

 

“My hope is that this process will lead to some visionary ideas about how we can secure the future of higher education in Colorado,” said Jay Helman, president of Western State College in Gunnison.Colorado has an opportunity to take the lead in a re-visioning of higher education that could benefit the entire country. Nearly every state is faced with substantial funding challenges for higher education. If we can have open and bold discussions about our future, we have an opportunity to strengthen higher education in Colorado and to lead much-needed reform in other states.”

 

“We’re very pleased that this initiative is moving forward, and look forward to participating in a process that will benefit all Colorado,” said Stephen Jordan, president of MetropolitanState College in Denver.

 


 

GOV. RITTER HONORS EFFORT TO PLACE RETURNING VETERANS IN CONSTRUCTION JOBS


GOVERNOR RITTER HONORS PARTNERSHIP TO PLACE

 RETURNING VETERANS IN QUALITY CONSTRUCTION JOBS

 

FORT CARSON — Gov. Bill Ritter today honored efforts to provide civilian careers for returning veterans with a proclamation recognizing the work of Helmets to Hardhats and the Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council.

 

“We must ensure that veterans, who risk their lives for our freedom, can successfully transition back into the civilian workforce when they come home,” Gov. Ritter said, issuing the proclamation during a visit to a FortCarson construction site. “Helmets to Hardhats is there to point veterans in the right direction, and the ColoradoBuilding and Construction Trades Council is providing successful careers paths.”

 

Helmets to Hardhats is a free, nonprofit program that connects retired and transitioning military members with construction business employers. Making a successful transition from the military into the civilian workforce can be difficult, so the program offers networking and helps military members translate the skills they learned in the military into a language that civilian employers can understand.

 

“Helmets to Hardhats is extremely delighted to be joined by Gov. Ritter and the State of Colorado in recognizing the critical importance of assisting our nation’s military veterans, National Guard and Reserve in finding secure and stable careers and training in Construction,” said Darrell L. Roberts, executive director of Helmets to Hardhats. “Through its formal support and acknowledgement of the Helmets to Hardhats program, Gov. Ritter and the State of Colorado have demonstrated a firm commitment to our veterans and service members that goes beyond just words.”

 

The ColoradoBuilding and Construction Trades Council is working with Helmets to Hardhats to help with job placement and networking.  “Colorado is home for many transitioning military families,” said Neil Hall, the Council’s business manager. “We at the ColoradoStateBuilding and Construction Trades Council want our servicemen and women to know we’re proud of them and that we’re here for them.”

 

 Click here for more information on Helmets to Hardhats.

 

# # #

 

HONORARY PROCLAMATION

 

HELMETS TO HARDHATS

December 16, 2009

 

WHEREAS, we who enjoy the blessings of freedom and the joys of liberty throughout the world owe a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciation to those who have served and are serving in the Armed Forces of the United States; and 

 

WHEREAS, in January 2003, the Helmets to Hardhats program was created as part of a federally funded program – a program enabling military veterans to cope with transition after their service by helping them put their military training to use in jobs in the building and construction trades; and

 

WHEREAS, there is a need within the construction industry for men and women with prior training who exhibit discipline, leadership, and the ability to work in a team environment; and

 

WHEREAS, efforts to assist the re-entry of returning servicemen and women into civilian construction employment will ensure that the State of Colorado has a highly skilled construction workforce and provide assistance to returning servicemen and women; and

 

WHEREAS, the partnership encourages construction workers to become active in the National Guard and Reserves; and

 

WHEREAS, Colorado workforce centers have been a partner in Helmets to Hardhats programs at Buckley Air National Guard, Colorado National Guard, Peterson Air Force Base, Schriever Air Force Base, US Air Force Academy and US Army Fort Carson Base;

 

Therefore, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim December 16, 2009,

 

HELMETS TO HARDHATS

 

in the State of Colorado.

 

GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this sixteenth day of December, 2009

 

Bill Ritter, Jr.

Governor

 

LATINO LEADERS ENDORSE GOVERNOR RITTER

 


 

(Denver)  Governor Bill Ritter’s campaign received a major boost today as dozens of prominent Latino community leaders endorsed his re-election effort.  “Bill Ritter is a principled leader and a man of conviction” said State Senator Abel Tapia from Pueblo, “He is the type of leader who does what he believes is the right thing to do – even if it isn’t easy politically.”

 

Nearly 50 prominent members of the Latino community took part in today’s endorsement event, touting the Governor’s leadership on education, health care and the economy. “This governor continues to lead Colorado forward even during the worst economic downturn in generations,” said former state senator and small-business owner Paul Sandoval, “Our unemployment rate is well below the national average. We are ranked as one of the best states in the nation in which to do business, and most experts believe Colorado is poised to emerge from recession well ahead of the pack. That’s leadership.”

 

Joe Salazar, former chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, contrasted Ritter’s leadership and track record against that of Congressman McInnis. “Bill Ritter is leading us forward – but Congressman McInnis wants to take us back to the old politics of George W. Bush and Tom Delay when lobbyists wrote the rules and government put special interests ahead of real people. Congressman McInnis represents the kind of politics that got us into this mess in the first place.”

 

Others said they were worried about McInnis’ debt to Tom Tancredo. “Congressman McInnis’ close ties to Tom Tancredo and Republican big money spell danger for the Latino community.  His willingness to cut deals for political profit behind closed doors will harm us all,” said former State Senator Polly Baca.

 

The endorsement by so many prominent Latino community leaders this early in the campaign is significant.  The Latino vote played a major role in recent statewide elections and is seen as a critical coalition for candidates.

 

 

GOV. RITTER WELCOMES SOLARCITY JOBS AND AFFORDABLE CLEAN ENERGY TO COLORADO


 

Gov. Bill Ritter and elected officials announced today that SolarCity has opened for business in Colorado. SolarCity, an innovative solar provider, will locate its Colorado office in Westminster with plans to expand operations in metro Denver area. 

 

“I’m pleased to welcome SolarCity to Colorado‘s New Energy Economy,” Gov. Ritter said. “Even in this tough economy, we’re continuing to attract new companies and create new jobs while making clean energy more affordable for families and small businesses all across the state. Today’s announcement is the direct result of forward-thinking legislation that has established Colorado as a national leader and positioned us for a quick and strong recovery.”   

 

In April 2009, Gov. Ritter signed the Renewable Energy Finance Act, Senate Bill 09-051, sponsored by Sen. Morgan Carroll and Rep. Claire Levy, to increase financial options for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Colorado. SolarCity is the second solar company to announce it will now work in Colorado because of this forward-thinking legislation, bringing dozens of jobs and clean power to Colorado.

 

“Because of the legislative changes we made last year, solar is now available in affordable monthly payments so that a typical Colorado family can now afford solar and save money on their utility bill. SolarCity’s relocation to Colorado demonstrates the real value and economic benefits of green technology,” Sen. Carroll said. “Not only are we committing ourselves to environmentally sound practices, we are creating good jobs in Colorado even in the midst of a recession.”

 

“The New Energy Economy continues to be a shining light in Colorado, and I am so pleased that SolarCity has selected Colorado,” Rep. Levy said. “Thanks to the Governor’s support of legislation like SB 51, which helps homeowners finance renewable energy upgrades for their homes and businesses, more new energy firms are bound to continue coming to Colorado.” 

 

“As a result of forward thinking on the part of Gov. Ritter, the Colorado legislature, Xcel Energy and the state’s environmentally-minded citizens, Colorado has the potential to become a national leader in solar power adoption per capita,” said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. “SolarCity is introducing an option that can allow Colorado homeowners to install solar with no upfront cost and begin saving money immediately. We believe SolarLease will ultimately allow thousands of Colorado homeowners to adopt clean power for less than they previously paid for electricity.”


WEDNESDAY: GOV. RITTER TO VISIT FORT CARSON, PUEBLO


 

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

 

10 a.m.            Gov. Ritter will sign a proclamation supporting the “Helmets to Hardhats” program, which helps members of the military successfully transition back into civilian life by connecting them to employment opportunities in the construction industry. Location: SoldierFamilyAssistanceCenter,

1481 Titus Blvd.

, FortCarson.

 

Media: All media outlets planning on covering this event must contact the Fort Carson Public Affairs Office to RSVP at (719) 526-4143/7525 or (719) 524-2446 by 4 p.m. today (Tuesday, Dec. 15).

 

General Public: Please arrive by 9:30 a.m. at Gate 1 at the Fort Carson Base (Hwy 115 and

O’Connell Blvd

). Please have a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration.

 

1:30 p.m.        Gov. Ritter and CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia will host a roundtable discussion with business, education and civic leaders about economic-recovery strategies and how Gov. Ritter is strengthening partnerships with businesses and education. Location: CSU-Pueblo, Associated Student Government Chambers, OcchiatoUniversityCenter, Room 201,

2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo

.

 

3 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will help carry and unload donated clothing for those in need. Location: PuebloCooperativeCareCenter,

325 W. 10th St., Pueblo

.

 

4:15 p.m.        Gov. Ritter will issue an executive order encouraging state agencies to buy American-made products when using Recovery Act funds for construction projects. He will be joined by state Sen. Abel Tapia and Reps. Buffie McFadyen and Sal Pace. Location: United Steelworkers of America Local 2102,
1414 E. Evans Ave., Pueblo

.


 

10:45 A.M. TODAY: GOV. RITTER TO WELCOME NEW SOLAR COMPANY

OFFICE OF GOV. BILL RITTER, JR.
WWW.COLORADO.GOV/GOVERNOR

 

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

 

10:45 a.m.       Gov. Ritter, state Sen. Morgan Carroll and Rep. Claire Levy will hold a news conference to announce the arrival of a new solar company and the creation of new jobs in Colorado. Location: West Foyer, State Capitol.

 

5 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will mark this year’s Hanukkah celebration during a community menorah lighting ceremony. Location:

300 S. Dahlia St., Denver

(at

Alameda Avenue

).

 

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

 

All Day           Gov. Ritter will be attending several events on FortCarson and in Pueblo. A detailed itinerary will be issued separately.

 

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

 

5 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will deliver a keynote speech at a forest health symposium sponsored by For the Forest. Location: Hotel Jerome, Aspen.

 


GOV. RITTER’S SCHEDULE FOR TODAY & WEEK OF DEC. 14, 2009

 

Monday, Dec. 14, 2009

 

Noon               Gov. Ritter and legislative leaders will talk with reporters about their priorities for the upcoming 2010 legislative session during an annual gathering hosted by the Colorado Press Association. Location: Denver Press Club,

1330 Glenarm Place, Denver

.

 

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

 

10:45 a.m.       Gov. Ritter, state Sen. Morgan Carroll and Rep. Claire Levy will hold a news conference to announce the arrival of a new solar company and the creation of new jobs in Colorado. Location: West Foyer, State Capitol.

 

5 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will mark this year’s Hanukkah celebration during a community menorah lighting ceremony. Location:

300 S. Dahlia St., Denver

(at

Alameda Avenue

).

 

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

 

All Day           Gov. Ritter will be attending several events in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. A detailed itinerary will be issued Tuesday.

 

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009

 

5 p.m.              Gov. Ritter will deliver a keynote speech at a forest health symposium sponsored by For the Forest. Location: Hotel Jerome, Aspen.