Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Joseph Garcia, lieutenant governor nominee, could be a twofer for John Hickenlooper

When John Hickenlooper unveiled his education platform yesterday, he touted the experience of running mate Joseph Garcia, currently the president of CSU-Pueblo.

Which would make Garcia, who's already served as director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies under then-governor Roy Romer, a natural to head the Colorado Department of Education.

That's if Hickenlooper is elected and wants to have his lieutenant governor actually do something besides taking on the statutory tasks of supervising the Commission of Indian Affairs and covering when the governor is out of state.

And in the process, Garcia could collect more than the $68,500 salary that comes with the lieutenant governor post, which would be a major cut from his $200,000-plus paycheck in Pueblo.

But it's against Colorado law for a state officer to be paid two salaries, so even if Garcia were to take on two jobs, he'd be paid for just one -- likely the cabinet job, since those posts pay better.

"No decisions have been made," says George Merritt, communications director for the Hickenlooper campaign, "but John and Joe have talked about the possibility of Joe serving Colorado as both the lieutenant governor and as a department head if John is elected. Joe would receive only one salary, saving the state money and maximizing Joe's talent. That approach appears consistent with Colorado law, which requires the governor to restrict the number of employees in the executive branch to the lowest number required for its efficient operation. It's also smart government -- but right now, it's just an idea."

It's an idea that Dan Maes, who's all about cutting back the size of state government, might want to look at, too. After all, his running mate, Tambor Williams, has also served as director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, under then-governor Bill Owens.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun