Good ol’ J.W. Hickenlooper the second would like Coloradans to believe he’s a business-friendly governor. Slick Hick says, “come look at these nice statistics that tell you how fabulous I am for businesses.” But, like a man who has come by wealth through inheritance, Hick is only skating by on the great resources Colorado has to offer, and not enhancing them.
The American Legislative Exchange Council released its annual state economic outlook for 2014: Colorado has fallen to 22nd. After years of consistently ranking in the top ten (#2 in ’09, #2 in ’10, #6 in ’11, #8 in ’12) Colorado has dropped dramatically over the past two years, ranking 16th last year and fallen a further six spots this year. The six spot drop from 2013 tied Colorado for the second worst drop of all fifty states.
With Slick Hick adding over 24,000 pages of regulations in 2012 and 2013 alone, along with the 10th highest tax increases among the all fifty states over the same period, this tumble in the rankings should come as no surprise. Luckily for El Deuce (get it? because Hick’s the second) the conservative-bastion that is Douglas County—still considered business friendly—has the jobs rolling in, while Weld County has been pumping out more gas and jobs to keep other traditional metrics of Colorado’s economy afloat.
How much is Douglas County’s 5.9% and Weld County’s 5% growth rate compensating for other counties with lackluster growth across Colorado? Certainly Colorado’s unemployment would be higher without the thousands of jobs those two counties have brought in.
But it’s not just ALEC that has downgraded the economic environment in Colorado. George Mason University’s Mercatus Center economic and personal freedom rankings have Colorado falling steeply to 19th in the country when just back in 2007 we were 4th. Hell, even under former Democratic governor Bill Ritter we only slipped to 7th in 2009. Since then, and since having J.W. Hick in charge for the past four years, we have slipped a further twelve spots.
While Colorado continues to look pretty compared to the rust-belted states to the East, and the impossibly over-regulated by hippies states to the West, we sure are the ugliest economic step-sister when it comes to the states most like us. If Slick Hick isn’t replaced this November, we can resign ourselves to an economy more suited to Cleveland than Salt Lake City.