Rural communities will not be forgotten
By Benjamin Engen
Published Thursday, May 25, 2017 8:15 am
I have been a candidate for governor for just over two weeks now. When I entered the race, I received the strongest reaction from folks living in rural Colorado. Their message was remarkably consistent -- "Don't forget about us." Colorado's population is growing rapidly and our economy is one of the fastest growing in the nation. But these improvements have been disproportionately focused along the Front Range, around our capitol and the homes of most of our legislators. All things considered, it's easy to see how many folks in our rural areas now feel like there are two Colorados -- the Front Range and everyone they've forgotten about.
This legislative session almost saw rural Colorado bearing the burden of this indifference yet again. As the ongoing debate over the hospital provider fee wore on, it looked for a time that we would see massive cuts to our hospital funding, cuts that would disproportionately harm rural Colorado. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg deserves credit for his work on compromise legislation to ensure that didn't happen. It wasn't an ideal fix, but compromises never are. Through his efforts, funding for rural hospitals was preserved and a deal was still struck to limit the total increase in state spending. This is proof that when the political will exists, our critical goals can often be met for less than their initial price tag. When I am governor, I won't forget that Colorado is more than just the Front Range and I will follow Sen. Sonnenberg's example in finding ways to pursue limited government that don't single out our rural areas to bear the full burden.