Legislature must foster job creation

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By Mike Kopp

The decision of the voters of South Jeffco’s state Senate dictrict to bestow on me the privilege of serving a second term is humbling. For that honor, I say thank you.
The coming session of the General Assembly will be challenging as we tackle a budget deficit and seek ways to revitalize our weak economy so that jobs become more abundant than they are right now and so our friends and family members who need them can get back to work.
In my campaign I tried very hard to present a positive agenda for job creation and economic growth across our great state. I believe we must curtail regulatory burdens on business and repeal the onerous tax increases enacted in recent years. I strongly believe we need to streamline state government and give priority to the core functions and services that all citizens want their government to provide. I will continue to work for that agenda in the 2011 session of the General Assembly.
In looking at the legislative session ahead of us, we face an odd paradox. While there is a broad consensus that economic recovery and job creation must be our top priorities, there is division over how to achieve those goals. That division comes from different visions of government’s proper role in the economy.
There is a lot of well-meaning talk out there about creating government “partnerships” with business. To me, this concept is more attractive on the surface than in practice. Experience and history tell us that government does not do a very good job at partnering with private business — their goals are not the same. A better approach is for government to be the neutral referee enforcing rules that allow for vibrant competition and entrepreneurial investments. It is the private sector that creates jobs, not government, and some of the best things government can do to help create new jobs is to reduce its reliance upon business taxes and to be a force for a leaner and more certain regulatory environment.
When I look at the most visible and long-running government-subsidized enterprises, I see failed companies. I cannot think of one recent government-sponsored capital project that came in on budget. Government by its very nature will attempt to substitute political judgments and political interests in order to control the outcome of any enterprise in which it has made an “investment” or with which it has “partnered.”  
We have an example of that folly when the state legislature enacts laws to allow utilities to raise their rates to generate subsidies to politically favored “new energy technologies.” As the Denver Post editorial board recently noted, lawmakers should be slow to enact policies that drive utility rates up.
The citizens of Colorado want an end to business as usual and a return to accountability. Government can learn to do more with less, but, unfortunately, that is not the natural course of events in politics. The General Assembly must step up and say “No!” to larger budgets and then go beyond that to force reductions in spending wherever possible.
Transparency in all government operations is one of the best tools for enforcing economy and accountability and curtailing favoritism and corruption. I pledge to continue to work for improved transparency across state and local government. Certainly we can improve the transparency of the law-making process, and I encourage all citizens to stay informed and get involved in issues that concern them most.
Serving the people as a legislator is a high privilege, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work for the residents of my district. I will continue to seek out new ideas and suggestions for ways to improve the region’s economic climate and the regulatory environment for small business so that we can get our people back to work. Our challenges are formidable, but together we can build a better Colorado for ourselves and our children.

Mike Kopp represents Colorado Senate District 22 and currently serves as the state Senate’s minority leader. He can be reached at 303-866-2638 or mike.kopp.senate@state.co.us.