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Bill  Owens

Bill Owens

Fortieth Governor of Colorado


Called “The Best Governor in America” by National Review magazine, Gov. Bill Owens was sworn in as Colorado’s fortieth governor in January 1999. He was re-elected in 2002 with the greatest majority in Colorado history, earning a broad mandate for his innovative leadership. Read More >

Gov. Owens pushed through the largest tax relief package in state history, amounting to $1 billion in rate cuts of sales, personal income, and capital gains taxes, as well as in elimination of the marriage penalty. As a result, he has won high marks for his fiscal leadership, earning the highest grade among the nation’s governors from The Cato Institute. His policies of low taxes and restrained government spending were cited as an example for other states in a lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

He was touted as one of the major emerging leaders in American politics by The Economist magazine, and was identified as one of the country’s top ten rising political stars by syndicated columnist Robert Novak. He is also the former Chairman of the Republican Governors Association and has branched out into the area of foreign policy, becoming a widely respected expert on Soviet affairs, often writing and lecturing on Russia. As a learned voice on domestic affairs, he is a frequent participant on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, and Larry King, and he has acted as a commentator on CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, and Bloomberg.

Keeping his promise to institute sweeping school reform in Colorado, Gov. Owens created an education accountability system—including detailed, online school report cards—that US Education Rod Paige has called “the envy of the nation.” His accountability system has been praised as among the best in the nation by Education Week magazine and The Heritage Foundation. He combined this model education accountability plan with five consecutive years of full state funding for public education.

Gov. Owens kept his commitment to transform Colorado’s transportation system, which had been neglected for nearly a quarter century. Through innovative policies, he accelerated road and mass transit projects that would have taken half a century to complete—projects that will now be done in a decade. He pushed for and signed into law the largest state commitment to transportation, which will invest $15 billion over the next two decades.

Known as one of Colorado’s most effective policy makers prior to his election as Governor, Owens served in the State House and Senate and as Colorado Treasurer. He authorized landmark legislation creating charter schools, toughening prison sentences, modernizing child abuse statutes, and reforming the tort system. He was a leading advocate of the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, which caps government spending and required that excess funds be returned to state taxpayers.

In 2007, Owens joined the University of Denver's Institute for Public Policy Studies as a senior fellow.

Gov. Owens, who holds a Master’s degree in public administration from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, worked for 20 years in the private sector with the consulting staff of Deloitte and Touche, and with the Gates Corporation. Read Less ^

Speech Topics

The Right's Right: America's New Conservative Agenda

Laboratories of Democracy: Why States Are on the Cutting Edge

Accountability + Standards = Real Results: The New Math for Public Schools

Connect with Bill Owens