BILL OWENS holds a master’s degree in public administration from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He worked for 20 years in the private sector with the consulting staff of Deloitte and Touche, with the Gates Corporation, and as director of a trade association. He is an expert on Soviet affairs and writes and lectures often on Russia. Prior to becoming governor, Owens served in the state house and senate and as Colorado treasurer. He was sworn in as Colorado’s 40th governor in January 1999, and was reelected in 2002 with the greatest majority in Colorado history.
Governor Owens earned high marks for fiscal leadership when he pushed through the largest tax relief package in state history, amounting to $1 billion in cuts in rates of sales, personal income, and capital gains taxes, and eliminating the marriage penalty. Keeping his promise to institute sweeping school reform in Colorado, Owens created an education accountability system—including detailed, online school report cards—that 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. He also kept his commitment to transform Colorado’s transportation system by accelerating road and mass transit projects, thus reducing completion times from half a century to a decade. He pushed for and signed into law the largest state commitment to transportation, which will invest $15 billion over the next 20 years.
In 2005, Owens led a bipartisan effort to speed Colorado’s recovery from the recession. The effort led to citizen approval of a measure allowing the state to retain certain revenue for a period of five years, putting an end to serious budget cuts that were negatively impacting state services.