Henry Sobanet, who has led the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) for the past seven years, will leave at the end of June, according to an announcement Tuesday from Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Sobanet has been the go-to person on the state budget for several gubernatorial administrations; he also was the budget director for Republican Gov. Bill Owens in the mid-2000s.
“Henry has been a master with the state budget. His problem solving and attention to detail have served Colorado well, including two governors,” Hickenlooper said. “Henry always stayed above partisan politics and focused on getting the policy issues right. We will miss him.”
Sobanet began his state career 20 years ago. He first served in the Colorado Legislative Council staff as an economist, and then moved to OSPB as deputy director in 1999.
In 2004, he was appointed director when then-director Nancy McCallin stepped down to become president of the Colorado Community College System.
From 2007 to 2011, Sobanet left state government to run a consulting practice, Colorado Strategies, which specialized in economics, Colorado budget issues, legislative affairs, and strategic management. He returned to OSPB in 2011 at Hickenlooper’s request.
According to a statement from Hickenlooper’s office, “Sobanet guided the state’s financial decisions during dramatic swings from recessions to strong economic growth.”
Sobanet was the architect of 2005’s Referendum C, which allowed the state to spend revenue it collected over its Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit for five years on health care, education and transportation. He was the lead negotiator on the compromise between the governor and the legislature on a budget shortfall that led to the ballot measure.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve two governors and lead the Office of State Planning and Budgeting,” Sobanet said. “This is a bittersweet moment, but I am truly grateful to the governor and my colleagues for their support and camaraderie over the years. This is an experience and a group of people I will treasure forever.”
Sobanet’s swan song will be the next revenue forecast, scheduled for June 20.
He will be replaced by Lauren Larson, Director of State Operations for Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.
Hickenlooper, who is term limited, leaves office in a few months.