Kopp stars in GOP video response to State of the State

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By AJ Vicens

State Republican legislators responded to Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter's State of the State speech last week in a video that appears on YouTube.

The video response featured state Sen. Mike Kopp, R-South Jeffco, and state Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Colorado Springs. It's the first time the Republicans have ever responded on a video that was subsequently distributed, and it marks the party's efforts to get more in tune with current technology.

It was clear that the people involved in the taping did not have much experience, though. Halfway through the first take, the tripod holding the video camera collapsed. At one point, Senate staffers working a few feet from where the video was being shot were talking so loud that Kopp and Stephens had to stop. It also took Kopp a couple of tries to get through his remarks without making a miscue, but he, Stephens and the crew laughed off the glitches.

Another oddity, and perhaps the most significant of all, is that the video “response” was recorded about 4:30 p.m. Jan. 7, a day before the governor delivered his speech.

“It's going to be played in response, but technically it's more of a position about where Colorado Republicans want to go, and where we think the state is going to go," Kopp said Jan. 7 just after the filming. "We didn't 'respond' to anything in particular, but we do have a pretty good idea of what the governor is going to say on some of the broader issues."

Stephens echoed that sentiment.

"The governor hasn't delivered his speech, but yes he has," Stephens said Jan. 7. "He's delivered it in a variety of settings, fashions and actually to a lot of different businesses. If one is a careful read of the governor, as we are, you're going to see very much the same thing. There's really not much new under the sun."

Ritter delivered his third State of the State speech at 11 a.m. Jan. 8 in the state House chambers. He discussed the need for Colorado to bolster its renewable-energy efforts for economic and job development, and to seek federal funds to kick-start more than $1 billion in transportation projects that are waiting for funding.

"For every billion dollars of transportation construction, we protect or create at least 35,000 jobs," Ritter said. He said the state should get some federal support for those projects, but other solutions will be needed in the long run. For other projects, including updating 126 structurally deficient bridges around the state, other funds will have to be used.

"For the short term, we'll need to put safety and maintenance first, by looking at fees and bonding to fix old bridges and old roadways," Ritter said.

Kopp had a response for that suggestion the day before.

"A recession like this is not the time for the state to impose new burdens on the public," Kopp said in the video.

The transportation debate, which isn't new, took a twist in the days before the governor's speech when the state GOP suggested leveraging state assets to generate $500 million to fund transportation projects and create new jobs. The idea has been met with criticism from the other side of the aisle. A post on ColoradoPols.com, a popular Colorado political website, sums up the criticism: "Taking out equity in government assets might have made sense last year, but since then, our entire economy has collapsed in large part because there's too much floating debt to begin with."

Kopp dismissed the criticism.

"It's an innovative approach that allows us to access at minimum half a billion dollars in capital," Kopp said. "They're going to try and raise taxes and fees to pay for it. I don't think they can tax and fee enough to get all the dollars we're going to need to fix the problems that we have, and now is absolutely not the time to raise taxes and fees when Colorado families are struggling."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

For a full transcript of Gov. Bill Ritter's State of the StatesSpeech, visit www.colorado.gov/governor, and look for the "State of the State - 2009" section in the upper-left corner of the page. To view Sen. Mike Kopp’s and Rep. Amy Stephen's video response to Ritter's speech, visit www.coloradosenatenews.com, the state GOP's communication website. Scroll down for the video.