Gov. Bill Ritter today urged President Obama to reverse course and not cancel the Constellation space-travel program as currently proposed in NASA's FY11 budget. The termination likely would mean the end of the Colorado-based Orion Project and the elimination of 1,000 jobs here in the Centennial State.
"The Constellation Program, and specifically the Orion project, is a centerpiece of Colorado's aerospace sector, creating nearly 1,000 jobs here since 2006 and inspiring a new generation of engineers, scientists, teachers and students," Gov. Ritter says in a letter to the White House. "To abruptly change direction like this will lead to significant dislocation and distress at a precarious time for the economies of our nation and our state.
"I urge you to partner with my administration and the many experts in Colorado to help chart a strategic path forward. Together, we can strengthen Colorado's aerospace sector and meet the nation's needs without sacrificing the jobs that are so crucial to Colorado's economy and Colorado's future."
Gov. Ritter will stress the need to protect the Orion Project jobs in Colorado during a speech at the 26th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on Tuesday (12:30 p.m., Broadmoor Hotel, Main Ballroom, 1 Lake Ave.).
Here is the complete text of Gov. Ritter's letter to President Obama:
April 12, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I write to express my concerns about the job losses that will occur if the Constellation Program is cancelled as proposed by your FY 2011 NASA budget. Through your leadership with federal economic policy, and thanks to aggressive state-led initiatives here in Colorado, we are making significant progress rebounding from the worst economic crisis in over 70 years.
Terminating the Constellation Program would be a major setback to our collective progress, resulting in devastating job losses impacting dozens of Colorado companies and thousands of Colorado families.
The Constellation Program, and specifically the Orion project, is a centerpiece of Colorado's aerospace sector, creating nearly 1,000 jobs here since 2006 and inspiring a new generation of engineers, scientists, teachers and students. Colorado consistently ranks second or third in aerospace employment, with more than 300 companies, 170,000 employees and a cluster of military installations and research institutions.
This is an industry of the future that drives innovation and economic growth, provides well-paying jobs and contributes to our national security.
A comprehensive space exploration program is critical to national security and Colorado's economy. Our aerospace sector is well-positioned to take advantage of increased NASA investments in robotics, energy-efficiency, satellite development and space exploration technologies. With initiatives like eSpace: the Center for Space Entrepreneurship, and the 8thContinent project, Colorado has created an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports innovative solutions to unique space exploration challenges.
While I understand the need to regularly assess and prioritize our nation's space exploration efforts, I urge you to consider the economic impact of the termination. Colorado companies and their employees have, in good faith, worked hard with NASA to implement its plans, missions and visions. To abruptly change direction like this will lead to significant dislocation and distress at a precarious time for the economies of our nation and our state.
I urge you to partner with my administration and the many experts in Colorado to help chart a strategic path forward. Together, we can strengthen Colorado's aerospace sector and meet the nation's needs without sacrificing the jobs that are so crucial to Colorado's economy and Colorado's future.
Gov. Bill Ritter, Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien and Education Commissioner Dwight Jones announced today that Colorado will resubmit an application for Round 2 of Race to the Top education-reform funding.
Over the past week, Gov. Ritter, Lt. Gov. O'Brien and Commissioner Jones have reviewed the feedback and scoring results from the Round 1 application and talked with numerous education stakeholders from around Colorado. The three met this morning and decided it is in the best interest of Colorado students to re-apply for the federal grant funding.
"Colorado has broken new ground with student-centered reforms over the past three years," Gov. Ritter said. "We put together a solid Race to the Top application for Round 1 that would have allowed us to build on and accelerate the reforms that will allow all children in Colorado to reach their God-given potential. Our Round 2 application will make an even stronger case for how we will improve student achievement, turn around struggling schools and improve educator effectiveness."
Colorado's Race to the Top team will continue to review the Round 1 comments and submit the application for Round 2 by the June 1 deadline.
"We must reduce the achievement gap, turn around struggling schools and provide the best education possible for our students," said Lt. Gov. O'Brien. "We are committed to accelerating education reform in Colorado and our Round 2 application will be a coordinated effort to ensure our children's success."
"Moving forward for round two is the right decision for Colorado students, teachers and schools," said Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones. "We will scrutinize every comment from the first round and look for every opportunity to improve Colorado's application while staying true to the reform plans we have already put in motion. We appreciate Gov. Ritter's ongoing support of the effort to access these resources in order to improve Colorado's chances for success."