- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DENVER (AP) - John Hickenlooper took the oath of office for a second term as Colorado governor on a chilly morning outside the state Capitol Tuesday, providing a glimpse into his plans while recalling the previous four years as a time of achievement and tragedy.

“On this day, as I stand before you and once again take the solemn oath to serve as your governor, I am not the same person that I was four years ago,” Hickenlooper said. “And in the same way, Colorado is not the same state it was four years ago.”

The state faced great adversity in Hickenlooper’s first term. It suffered through two of the worst wildfire seasons in history. Massive flooding wreaked havoc on dozens of counties. And a gunman opened fire on a theater full of moviegoers.

Hickenlooper said, however, that through those trying times, he “saw selflessness and heroics.”

The Democrat fended off a challenge from Republican Bob Beauprez in November by focusing his campaign on promoting Colorado’s economic gains. Unemployment was just over 9 percent when Hickenlooper took office. It is now at 4.1 percent.

Hickenlooper touted the state’s economic accomplishments, noting that his administration has reversed a $1 billion budget deficit since he took office, and upgraded Colorado’s rainy day fund to nearly $600 million.

He outlined his plan to help people who have been unemployed for more than six months find jobs and referenced a looming “financial thicket” the state faces from a budget surplus that requires taxpayer refunds.

“Our state constitution mandates that we increase our expenditures and simultaneously cut taxes,” Hickenlooper said. “If that doesn’t sound like it makes much sense, that’s because it doesn’t. Nothing can grow and shrink at the same time.”

The governor didn’t go into details about how proposes to resolve the problem, and it’s not clear how much of a rebate each person would receive. Republicans generally support the payouts, while Democrats have said the state should use the money to restore recession-era cuts.

Hickenlooper will give more details Thursday in his annual State of the State address to lawmakers, where he will give a more comprehensive view of what he wants to see happen in the coming year.

He will be talking to a Legislature under divided control, with Republicans holding an advantage in the Senate and Democrats maintaining the House.

Hickenlooper urged collaboration. “No one party, no one person has all the answers,” he said.

The governor got a hearty reception from lawmakers and several hundred well-wishers gathered outside the Capitol. Before his speech, a cannon on the Capitol lawn fired 38 rounds - in honor of Colorado’s place as the 38th state.

Also taking oaths at the ceremony were the state’s four other constitutional officers. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and Treasurer Walker Stapleton were sworn in to begin their second terms. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Secretary of State Wayne Williams, both Republicans, took oaths for the first time.


Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt contributed.


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