Colorado Sen. Jean White smiles from the podium as she addresses Jo Ann Baxter, former Moffat County School Board president, during Friday night’s State of the County event at Holiday Inn. White spoke to a crowd of more than 80 people at the event, which also featured speeches from Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner and Craig mayor Terry Carwile.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Colorado Sen. Jean White smiles from the podium as she addresses Jo Ann Baxter, former Moffat County School Board president, during Friday night’s State of the County event at Holiday Inn. White spoke to a crowd of more than 80 people at the event, which also featured speeches from Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner and Craig mayor Terry Carwile.

Job creation, cutting red tape focus of State of State address

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2012 Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award winners:

2012 Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award winners:

• Large Business of the Year: The Memorial Hospital of Craig

• Small Business of the Year: Elkhorn Outfitters

• Businessperson of the Year: Chris Jones

• Ambassadors of the Year: Audrey Anna Charchalis, Adriana Robbins

2012 Quality of Life Contest winners under 12-years-old:

• Eric Macks

• Molly Neton

• Alexa Neton

2012 Quality of Life Contest winners over 12-years-old:

• Janele Husband

• Mei Jenrich

• Ken “Howdy” Davis

• Pasty Magness

Gov. John Hickenlooper once said, “The core business of government is not to create jobs…entrepreneurs do that. But we can help. What we do here and how we do it matters.”

District 8 State Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, relayed those words Friday night to more than 80 people in attendance for the State of the County dinner at the Holiday Inn of Craig, 300 S. Colorado Highway 13.

The annual affair highlights the events of the previous year and forecasts the things to come at the state, county, city, and chamber levels.

White was the evening’s keynote speaker.

She delivered the State of the State address, which focused on the economy and eliminating burdensome economic regulations.

According to the Small Business Administration, Federal government regulations in 2010 cost small businesses more than $1.7 trillion nationwide.

In addition, the Feds added an estimated 15,000 pages of new regulations to the books — handcuffing small business owners from hiring new employees and stifling creativity and innovation.

White said she takes Hickenlooper’s words to heart, and like a Democrat governor whose cabinet is made up of people with a shared a vision for the State of Colorado regardless of political affiliation, White said she plans to work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to champion business.

“While some members pride themselves on never crossing the aisle, I find it to be effective,” she said. “We need to find those things we can agree on.”

White admitted finding that common ground may be difficult considering the legislature is overloaded with Denver and Front Range politicians that don’t understand the importance of the energy industry in Moffat County.

She cited House Bill 10-1365, the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act, and the SIP bill, which requires tens of millions of dollars of air scrubbing equipment be added to two of the cleanest power plants in the country at Craig and Hayden stations, as missed opportunities to find common ground.

Although coal has been a staple of the economy in Craig and Moffat County, and it appears oil and gas boom may be on the horizon, White said concerns raised by Front Rangers are justifiable because it is so new to them.

“I think they should look to Moffat County as the model of being proactive, and involved in the process at every opportunity,” White said. “I know it hasn’t been easy, but this county has done a great job of understanding the impacts, embracing the industry, and protecting the community as well as our water and air.”

However easy to appeal to the lifeblood of the region, White said it wouldn’t be a State of the State speech without some budget talk.

She pointed to the importance of the energy industry and to the small business sector as key areas to help rectify a statewide lack in revenue generation.

In the last 10 years Colorado’s population has grown by 15 percent; student enrollment is up 16 percent; higher education enrollment is up 35 percent; the prison population has grown by 34 percent; and the number of residents on Medicaid has skyrocketed by 114 percent.

Yet, White said, the state’s general fund revenue has risen by just eight percent in the same time period.

“It’s time to do the math,” White said. “Without improved revenue streams, we must still face some difficult decisions in this budget year.”

In addition to eliminating burdensome and costly regulations on energy and business, White believes there is more opportunity to grow those revenue streams by promoting tourism in the state.

She joked she had to address the topic because her husband, Al, who was in the audience, is the head the Colorado Tourism Office.

“I couldn’t get away without mentioning something about tourism,” White said. “or I wouldn’t get a ride home.”

But in all seriousness, White pointed to the fact that for every $1 spent on promotion, Colorado receives $7 in the form of sales and use tax from visitors.

In addition, White pointed to last summer’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge that had a reported worldwide viewing audience of 20 million people and generated more than $80 million in economic activity.

“The people who watched this race and fell in love with Colorado will be those we welcome to our state in the coming months,” White said. “We have made great strides in promoting our state and we need to continue to be competitive.”

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Comments

cccbuds 2 years, 7 months ago

The following words from Colorado Senator Jean White. “I couldn’t get away without mentioning something about tourism,” White said. “or I wouldn’t get a ride home.” Her husband Al White is head of the Colorado Tourism Office. So where was the report from Moffat County Toursim Association? MCTA works closely with Al White and the Colorado Tourism Office. MCTA used to be invited by the Chamber of Commerce State of the County Address. I used to be a chamber ambassador I enjoyed a friendship with Christine Oxley. When I was of no use to her promoting her agendas behind the scenes, she threw me aside. She is so jealous of Mrs. Villard the director of MCTA that it is comical the hoops she jumps through to stifle Mrs. Villard. But the professionalism and grace with which Mrs. Villard handles her rebuffs is so mature. No invite to the MCTA. Page 10 of the daily press has Senator Jean White's address and just beside it on page 11 is a half page MCTA 2011 Year End Review. Mrs. Villard prevails again with grace. She is passionate about toursim, It is not just a JOB to her, you can tell. Go see the office of the MCTA in the mall. It will thrill and amaze you. Then go see the visitor center at the Chamber of Commerce. Not even comparing apples to apples.

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