Gov. Jared Polis second inauguration celebrates first term, lays out promises for second

Gov. Jared Polis swore into his second term Tuesday, riding praise from his first-term accomplishments and making promises to continue cutting costs for Coloradans.

Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, decisively won re-election in November. He painted a cheerfully determined picture of the four years to come and focused on accomplishments from his first term: putting into state law the right to an abortion; free full-day kindergarten; free preschool for part of the week; caps on health care costs through drug pricing and changes to the individual insurance market, among them.

He listed his priorities for the next four years in broad strokes: lower taxes, lower transportation costs, lower medical bills, lower business fees, and lower housing costs. He also reiterated his ongoing goal of Colorado transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2040.

“Throughout my first term, we’ve crossed some big items off of our to-do list, but that doesn’t mean the list in front of us today is any shorter,” Polis said.

He also cited 2026’s upcoming 150th anniversary of Colorado becoming a state as an inflection point for the state to ask: Who do we want to be?

His inauguration oscillated between celebrating his record from the past four years and a call for unity moving forward. In his speech, Polis said he welcomed ideas from all sides of the political spectrum.

While he helmed the state during the most acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, neither he nor other state leaders dwelled on it, or the other tragedies that have befallen the state, during their remarks.

The ceremony included prayers and comments from a Ute Mountain Ute tribal leader, a Baptist reverend and a rabbi, who spoke flanked by two banners declaring a “Colorado for all.”

As part of his pitch for re-election, Polis said cutting crime rates would be a top priority. He already requested stiffer penalties for car thefts, an effort legislators are likewise pursuing. Polis also celebrated recent voter-approved cuts to the state income tax. He also hopes to further trim it and make recent property tax cuts permanent.

“Anything we can do, we must do when it comes to helping you hold on to more of your hard-earned money,” Polis said.

Lawmakers have made gun violence a key part of their legislative agenda for the upcoming year. Polis did not explicitly mention gun violence but noted a need “to tackle crime head-on,” including school safety. Late last year, he visited the vigil for the victims of the Club Q massacre. Survivors of the shooting were in attendance at the inauguration Tuesday, and a joint choir — including a contingent of performers from Out Loud in Colorado Springs — sang throughout.

Polis was a tech entrepreneur and served on the state Board of Education before representing Northern Colorado in Congress. He won the governorship in 2018 as part of a trifecta victory for Democrats that included the state House of Representatives and Senate. The party has held that control since. This past November, Democrats defied their own expectations and that of prognosticators by not just holding the trifecta but expanding their majorities in the legislative chambers.

Legislators who introduced Polis attributed their victories to voters recognizing their record over the past four years.

Polis, along with Secretary of State Jenna Griswold, Attorney General Phil Weiser and Treasurer Dave Young — all Democrats also re-elected in November — swore in at about noon in front of the state Capitol.

“For too many people, life is simply too hard and too expensive,” Polis said. “Coloradans are counting on all of us who work in this building behind me to deliver solutions.”

The celebration included a benediction by Rabbi Dr. Tirzah Firestone of Congregation Nevei Kodesh, invocation by Rev. Dr. James D. Peters Jr. of New Hope Baptist Church, and a blessing by Terry Knight Sr., chair of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Polis’s mother, Susan Polis Schutz, read poetry extolling unity over division. Polis took the oath of office over a Torah held by his husband, Marlon Reis. Four years ago, he made history ago as the state’s first Jewish governor and as the first openly gay man elected to lead a state. After Polis finished taking the oath, a cannon across the street boomed 38 times, in honor of Colorado’s status as the 38th state.

The inauguration ceremony during the day precedes a concert Tuesday evening to celebrate Polis’ inauguration. He will then deliver his annual State of the State address on Jan. 17.

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