I got a quick phone call from Governor Ritter today. For some reason he's very busy right now but was nice enough to talk to me about the upcoming election.
He started off talking about how intense it is here in a swing state. He is definitely on top of the world right now - he says virtually everyone he talks to, Democrat, Independent, Republican, they are all charged up for Obama.
But the main topic was Amendment 58. And that was interesting.
So politicians watch the polls, listen to their constituents, and then try to find that perfect position that gets the most support and honks off the fewest people. And we then complain that they're just being politicians.
Then when someone steps up and does something that is not designed for maximum political benefit, we ask them what's wrong with them - why aren't they designing something to appeal to the most people.
Talking to the Gov it was clear that Amendment 58 was not designed to be easy to pass - it was designed to do what the Governor thought was what we most needed. Throughout the conversation as he discussed what is in the initiative, and why, there was not one word about how well (or badly) it would appeal to the voters. The entire conversation was around how key it is to the future of the state.
So for all of you that want a politician who steps up and does something because they believe it is important, even if it is not designed for maximum popularity, you've got it. I give him major kudos for doing what he sees as best as opposed to popular.
Bill Ritter clearly believes in the power of scholarships. That is how he was able to go to college and law school and so he understands how these scholarships are the future for so many kids. This is personal for him.
He also brought up the wildlife part of it, and again when he discussed how it was in there, even though it didn't bring in votes, because it was the right thing to do. He's clearly gone all-in on crafting the best bill here.
He brought up a very interesting point on having this as scholarships - that this gives poor students in High School a very direct personal message that if they graduate, college is there as an affordable next step. I hadn't thought of that but a scholarship is a more direct message than "college is less expensive" - which is what would happen if the funds went direct to the schools. Clearly Bill Ritter is in this for those that can't afford college.
I asked him if he thinks the money following the student will help improve the schools. I got a resounding yes. And he then discussed how if it plays out as he thinks, we will see most of our state colleges expand to meet the additional students that will be coming in with these funds.
He also talked a lot about how this is the future of Colorado. That everything we want to do from clean energy to healthcare to a booming economy - it all requires an educated workforce. And this gets us that workforce. These scholarships are step 1 for accomplishing all these other tasks we face.
So there you have it, and I think the Governor is spot-on in all of this, Amendment 58 is key to our future here in the state.