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Posted: December 08, 2011

A blueprint for a business-friendly environment

Colorado's on the right track

Dave Tabor

Thanks to Gov. John Hickenlooper and the team behind the crafting of the "Colorado Blueprint." The blueprint promotes innovation through a collaborative Colorado "State of Mind," and Gov. Hickenlooper's administration has already begun acting in ways consistent with the positive outcomes proposed in the plan. Arrow Electronics credits the plan with its recent decision to make Colorado its headquarters.

Our collaborative state of mind is a key opportunity and consistent with the mission of the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry - to champion a healthy Colorado economy.

The blueprint, which can be found on the Governor's website at www.Colorado.gov/governor, offers six stated objectives. The first objective, to "Build a Business-Friendly Environment," is the focus of this opinion. The blueprint has four tactics to support building a business-friendly environment. They include (1) stopping unfunded mandates, (2) improving the state's customer service, (3) working with local governments to create more uniform tax and fee procedures, and (4) improving efficiency and effectiveness of state government. CACI supports these tactics.

And I propose a fifth tactic: Maintain a collaborative attitude throughout government that laws and regulations affecting job creation should remain stable and predictable.

Business leaders want certainty about the laws and regulations that govern their operations and over which they have no control. We've learned that many companies facing uncertainty have resisted hiring and investing. Some of today's uncertainty is due to national and global factors, of course.

We can control the level of certainty created by state government, however, and we need to do so in two areas: first, new laws and regulations, and second, our state government's perceived attitude towards business. Here are examples from our recent past to illustrate what to watch for going forward as we strive to make Colorado a place in which businesses can survive and grow:

New laws and regulations: In the last few years, major rules revisions have been undertaken that affect energy exploration and extraction. As the state mulled over what the new operating rules would be, hundreds of millions of dollars in energy extraction investment was moved from Colorado to states perceived as more safe and stable places to invest and grow.

Another example is from 2009 when the General Assembly passed mandated changes to health insurance policies that were predicted to be so expensive that the state exempted itself while passing a law affecting Colorado businesses.

In pursuit of a healthy economy, CACI supports public policies that promote job growth. For example, the Colorado Blueprint proposes that the state work with local governments to create a more uniform tax-and-fee system. This is a powerful opportunity to streamline the Colorado tax system to reduce the cost of collecting and remitting taxes, and the undergoing of multiple audits.

Colorado's perceived attitude toward business: Bills don't have to be passed, and regulations don't have to be implemented to affect our reputation. A 2010 legislative proposal would have affected companies headquartered in Colorado with a tax targeting top executive compensation. CACI and its business allies defeated it because it would have sent an unwelcome message to some great companies and discouraged others from moving here.

Also in 2010, the Colorado Department of Revenue proposed to severely limit the ability of companies to legitimately recover state tax overpayments. While both of these efforts were prevented by vigorous advocacy, before they were defeated they threatened to taint the reputation of Colorado as a state that welcomes business.

I applaud the Colorado Blueprint! It's a positive and powerful plan. With the Colorado Blueprint, Gov. Hickenlooper, and a politically balanced Legislature, let's strive to maintain this collective "State of Mind" in Colorado government: to keep laws and regulations impacting job creation supportive, stable and predictable.
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Dave Tabor is vice president of membership and marketing for the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry.

  

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