4.23.2015

SMART Government Act

Each year Colorado state agencies submit their budget request to the Joint Budget Committee.  House Bill 10-1119, the SMART (State Management for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent) Government Act made some significant changes to the process, requiring strategic planning by all state agencies. For an explanation of the SMART Act and how it works, see the Colorado Legislative Council's Issue Brief.  Today the Senate will be hearing on second reading HB15-1308, concerning the Legislative Branch's responsibilities regarding the SMART Act.  Search our library's web catalog for more information, including access to the strategic and performance plans presented by each state agency.  The plans can also be found on the Office of State Planning & Budgeting website.

4.21.2015

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado in the 1893 World's Fair

In 1892-93 Chicago was transformed into the "White City" for the dazzling World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the World's Fair.  Presented on the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World, the Fair was dedicated in October 1892 and ran from May through October of 1893.  It covered over 600 acres of downtown Chicago.  200 temporary buildings were erected for the Fair, featuring the work of some of the finest architects and designers of the era:  Daniel Burham, Louis Sullivan, Richard Morris Hunt, Charles McKim, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and many others.  There was even a Women's Building, showcasing female artists, designed by a female architect, Sophia Hayden.  The many buildings showcased the arts as well as innovations and industry in America from transportation to mining to electricity.  Other attractions included exhibits of international culture, and amusements including the world's original Ferris Wheel.  In addition, many new products and food brands were introduced that would still be recognized today.

Among the exhibits at the Fair, each state had a "pavilion" with which to brag about themselves.  In 1891, the Colorado General Assembly created a Colorado Board of World's Fair Managers.  Members included Governor John L. Routt and a number of leading (and wealthy) Colorado men and women, along with several subject-matter experts such as the Secretary of the State Bureau of Horticulture, Dr. Alexander Shaw.  Colorado apples were judged highly at the horticultural exhibits, according to the bureau's 1893 report.  Among the other features of the Colorado pavilion was an educational exhibit, the planning for which is described in detail on pages 579-627 in the 1892 Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, available from our library.  Other Colorado attractions included a re-creation of Mesa Verde and an exhibit of stuffed wildlife.  The largest part of the Colorado pavilion, however, was a major exhibition on mining, being such a large part of the state's industry and economy.  Just weeks after the close of the exhibition, however, Colorado's economy was devastated by the effects of the Crash of 1893.  Colorado's exhibits were very much Western-themed.  At this time, there was heightened interest in the West, and Frederick Jackson Turner presented his famous "Frontier Thesis," proclaiming the closing of the frontier, at the Fair.  

The World's Columbian Exposition with its neoclassical architecture also hugely influenced the City Beautiful movement, which became popular in Colorado, especially under Mayor Speer's administration in the early 1900s.  For example, the Fair's influence on the architecture of Civic Center Park, though built several decades after the exhibition, is evident.  The Exposition attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors over its six-month run, attracting visitors from all over the world and becoming a significant memory for many people.  It also highly influenced American culture and commerce for decades to come.


The Grand Court of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  The architecture was temporary. (Credit: Wikipedia)

4.20.2015

TABOR Refund

Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution is the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, often referred to as TABOR, and was approved by voters in 1992.  One of the elements of TABOR is the TABOR refund, which goes back to taxpayers if revenue exceeds the state spending limit, as calculated by a formula in TABOR.  This year is expected to be one of the years in which this occurs.  For information on how the TABOR refund works, see the Colorado Legislative Council's Issue Briefs, especially #15-08, Tabor Refund Mechanisms, published just this month.  You can also find Briefs on marijuana's effect on the TABOR refund; Colorado's Constitutional Spending Limit, which breaks down the formula; and numerous other short, easy-to-understand explanations of Colorado's economic issues.




Nope, it has nothing to do with Horace.
(Colorado Historical Society)

4.16.2015

Teaching with Primary Sources

Metropolitan State University of Denver, a state-funded school, is participating in a program of the Library of Congress entitled Teaching with Primary Sources.  The program helps reach out to educators through workshops, events, and online materials to help them bring primary sources into the classroom to enrich students' experience of history.  To learn more, visit the TPS @ MSU Denver website.

Our library offers students and teachers access to thousands of primary sources, many of which have been digitized.  Examples of primary sources that can be found in our library include governors' speeches; house and senate journals dating back to territorial Colorado; historical reports of state agencies; proceedings from the development of the Colorado Constitution; memoirs of Coloradans; annual and biennial reports; and a myriad other resources that give a look at what was going on in Colorado state government during all eras of our state's history.  Visit our page on the Internet Archive to view hundreds of historical documents from our collection, which can supplement the teaching of our state's history with items and images of long ago.

4.15.2015

Colorado's New State Symbols

Some years ago in this blog I posted a series about Colorado's state symbols and emblems.  Since then, Colorado has adopted several new state symbols.

The State Pet is the shelter pet.  Dogs and cats rescued from shelters in Colorado were designated as the state pets in 2013.  School kids from Walsenburg came up with the idea.  The bill designating the state pet can be viewed here.  The Colorado Legislature has recognized shelter pets in numerous ways over the past few years, by establishing an Adopt a Shelter Pet license plate and holding a Pet Adoption Day at the Capitol.


Pack burro racing was designated as the State Summer Heritage Sport in 2012.  Pack burro racing as an organized event started in 1949 between Leadville and Fairplay.  The sport is meant to commemorate Colorado's mining heritage.  Miners used pack burros, or donkeys, to carry their supplies through the mountains in places where it was often too dangerous or cumbersome to use a vehicle, or where trains didn't go.  Pack burro racing is also considered to be the only sport indigenous to Colorado.  The resolution designating the sport can be viewed here.



I'm sure you can guess the State Winter Recreational Sport.  Yep, skiing/snowboarding, designated by the Legislature in 2008.


Colorado's newest state symbol is the State Cactus.   The Claret Cup Cactus was designated in 2014, proposed by a Girl Scout troop from Castle Rock.  View the Act here.  Check out the book Colorado Flora:  Western Slope, available from our library, for more information on this and other Colorado cacti and wildflowers.

Photo courtesy National Park Service