Wednesday, February 20, 2002
Craig Gov. Bill Owens completed a three day, 18-city tour by speaking at a Republican fund-raiser in Craig Wednesday night.
"As the 18th and last city of this tour, I'm very glad to be in Craig, Colo.," Owens quipped.
Owens used the tour to officially announce his campaign to be re-elected to a second term as Colorado governor. When he was elected in 1999, Owens was the first Republican governor in 28 years.
On the three-day tour, the governor highlighted the stops that demonstrated some of the accomplishments of his administration to date. A visit to Bessemer Academy in Pueblo was used as an example of the success of Owens' education reform package.
"Four years ago, only 12 percent of students at Bessemer could read at their grade level," he said. "Now, 70 percent of students are reading at their grade level."
The tax-relief effort that provided $1 billion annually for tax cuts, Colorado's high ranking as a state that supports and encourages business and the successful voter referendum to allow bonding of highway projects were also highlighted.
The tour included stops in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, Loveland, Grand Junction, Greeley, Fort Morgan, Sterling, Clarkville, Burlington, Lamar, La Junta, Alamosa, Gunnison, Montrose, Durango, Delta and Craig.
While the state's deficit of $560 million has severely impacted all state departments and programs, highway improvement projects like the one planned for Colorado 13 have only been delayed, not lost, Owens said.
"Those projects have only been deferred and they will stay in the same order they were originally organized in," he said. "In most cases, they'll only be delayed three or four months.
"I have a bill in the House, HB1310, that proposes to invest $11 billion over the next 20 years into our highways. It has a lot of bipartisan support, and if I can get it through the Senate and have it passed, there will be more money for transportation for all of Colorado."
The Colo. 13 project, which would improve the roadway from the Wyoming border to as far south as Rifle, was originally slated to begin in early 2003. A new date for the project has not been set.
Owens also will oppose any "transmountain diversions" of water rights if such moves are attempted without the consent of the communities in the river basin where the water is originating.
Owens said if he were elected, he would continue to provide resources for the economic development of the rural areas of the state.
"Colorado is so much more than just the Front Range," Owens said. "We've had a lot of prosperity in parts, but all of Colorado hasn't enjoyed that. I've set up an economic development administration, which will continue to work to improve the economy in all of Colorado."
The Craig/Moffat County Lincoln Day Dinner featured the announcements of several other candidates for federal and state positions, including Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Rep. Scott McInnis, Rep. Al White, Rep. Gregg Rippy and Attorney General Marty Albright.