Gov. Hickenlooper Explains Clinton Endorsement, Clean Power Plan Actions

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Photo: Hickenlooper State of State SoS 1.14.16 (AP)
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers and guests, inside the state legislature, in Denver, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.

Colorado's caucuses are less than two weeks away, and on Thursday in a conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper made an endorsement in the presidential race of a candidate he's talked favorably about for a long time: Hillary Clinton.

"I look at all the candidates, Republicans, Democrats," Hickenlooper said. "I think that she's the only person who's ready to be president from day one."

The governor's informal support for Clinton has long been known, though he had not made an official endorsement in the race, which has become close between the former secretary of state and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

He also knows his endorsement may not be that important to Colorado voters.

"I think what matters more is what people, in the end, hear what their neighbors think," he said. "I think that carries more weight than what my endorsement is. But... most of those people haven't had a chance to sit and discuss issues with Hillary Clinton for 30 minutes or 40 minutes, and I have."

Elsewhere in the conversation on Colorado Matters, Hickenlooper explained why he's moving forward with implementing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce emissions from coal plans, despite a recent Supreme Court decision putting a stay on the program.

"So we're clear, the court said the federal government can't impose this on us," Hickenlooper said. He added that the ruling doesn't preclude Colorado from taking actions it thinks are appropriate to make its energy production cleaner.

Those actions include converting coal plants to natural gas plants, the governor says. And he wants to help communities where coal plants have already closed.

"I think we do have a responsibility to go to those communities and see what we can do to try and find new businesses or be able to retrain some of the miners so that that community doesn't suffer so much economically," he said, citing places in the North Fork Valley, Gunnison County, and outside of Craig.

Hickenlooper also discussed how Colorado could meet its transportation funding needs in the future, and explained why he does not support a ballot proposal for single-payer health care in Colorado.

Listen to the complete audio at the link above. Excerpts of the interview are below.

On how to fund transportation upgrades in the state that leaders of both parties agree are necessary:

"There's a group of nonpartisan individuals [called Building a Better Colorado] going around the state talking to people... to see, if we need more resources, should we have a toll road? Which are not terribly popular. Should we raise the gas tax? Not terribly popular. Go down that list. At a certain point, the public has the choice... on whether they want to live with the existing road infrastructure and the congestion that it creates, or are they willing to, in whatever way they decide, make the investment in better transportation infrastructure.

"I would look at, whether it's raising the gas tax, or some people have been arguing that maybe, let's eliminate the gas tax and raise the sales tax in some way... I haven't ruled anything out."

On why he does not support the ColoradoCare initiative, for single-payer healthcare in Colorado:

"I think we have put so much effort into changing the way we deliver healthcare to people and making sure that more people are able to access insurance that to throw it all out and start all over again would be prohibitively expensive."