Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State

Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State

Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State

Colorado Politics and Policy: Governing a Purple State


Survey after survey reveals that many Coloradans believe that the U. S. government is too big, too wasteful, and too intrusive. Yet Colorado is arguably one of the most federally subsidized states in the union, with forests, national parks, military bases, and research laboratories benefiting from the federal government's largesse.
A concise history of Colorado's constitution and central political institutions, Colorado Politics and Policy offers a probing analysis of the state's political cultures. It shows how the state, in many ways a template of the deeply contrary politics of the nation, puts political power into the hands of an ever-more-polarized electorate increasingly inclined to put the concerns of government to the test of the citizen-initiative.
Colorado Politics and Policy is the result of broad-gauged and sophisticated research which includes author interviews with citizens and officials across the state, three specially commissioned statewide public opinion surveys, and extensive interviews with governors, legislators, judges, lobbyists, interest group leaders, and leading political analysts.
This fresh and engaging interpretation is essential reading for those who want to understand Colorado's major election trends, chief public policy and budget challenges, and this distinctively purple state's unique political history.


Colorado has a proud history of being a fiercely independent frontier state. Yet in reality Colorado is largely urbanized. Ninety percent or more of the residents live along the state’s two main interstate highways, 1–25 and 1–70.

Coloradans (it is not Coloradoans) express decidedly negative attitudes toward the U.S. government. the citizen surveys conducted for this book reveal that most Coloradans think the “feds” are too big, too wasteful, and too intrusive. Yet Colorado would be economically devastated if federal installations suddenly left the state and federal contracts and subsidies for a variety of activities and services were ended.

Imagine, for example, a Colorado Springs without the U.S. Army base at Fort Carson, the U.S. Space Command, or the U.S. Air Force Academy. Imagine the Boulder-Golden area without its several national research laboratories. Imagine if Colorado’s national forests, parks, and monuments or U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands were privatized.

Coloradans, to be sure, favor a much smaller federal government, but they do not favor the elimination of major U.S. government projects and spending programs in Colorado.

Colorado, in fact, has been uncommonly dependent on the federal government to help manage its mountains and forests, develop its mineral and water resources, build its interstate highways and airports, and provide its human services.

Colorado has a proud history of being fiscally prudent. the state is known for its balanced budgets, low state taxes, and relatively low debt. Most Coloradans are skeptical about government and object to expanding taxing and spending powers. the objections to higher taxes can, however, be overcome when the tax pays for a service that voters like, such as buying open space or furthering historic preservation.

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