Key Themes for Helping Colorado Recover from the COVID Economic Shutdown
Elected leaders must not balance our shrinking state budget on the backs of the most vulnerable – that includes our students and our seniors. That means we make it a priority to preserve education funding and the senior property exemption.
From 2016-17 to 2019-20 our state budget grew 24%, and General Fund revenues increased 25%. During the same time, our population only grew 4%.
Yes, we’ll have less money this year – but so does just about every family in Colorado. It’s time for those of us in government to refocus our priorities and ‘rightsize’ our state budget to insure the most vulnerable are not hurt further.
Over the coming days we’ll announce specific plans to preserve PK-12 funding and the senior property exemption along with other ideas. We’re hoping to engage our friends across the aisle on these and other ideas.
Our local businesses are dying. Colorado families with children and their loved ones have lost jobs. State government must focus all its efforts to lighten their burden instead of protecting favored government programs.
We can relieve taxes and cut red tape for business owners so that workers and the unemployed can get back on their feet.
To give you two examples: First, we can use a portion of the federal money coming in to replenish our state unemployment funds so that businesses won’t be forced to pay more into the fund when they’re struggling to survive. This will help them hire and pay their employees.
Second, businesses shut down by Governor Polis are still forced to pay personal property tax – but they’re not being allowed to use the property to make money. Eliminate this tax for the rest of the year so businesses are not forced to pay a tax on property they were not allowed to use.
We’ll roll out additional ideas in the coming days and weeks, and look forward to working with Democrats to help Colorado businesses.
In every economic downturn, rural Colorado is hit hardest. We need to modernize and update state regulations so that the farmers, ranchers and business owners that feed Colorado now won’t become extinct.
For example, because of COVID-related policies our feedlots now hold more cattle than is allowed – but problems in shipping and transportation shouldn’t force us to starve animals or be fined for trying to feed them. We just need some common sense and some modernization.
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It’s common sense to help rural Colorado on this and other issues in the near future.
We need more accountability for elected and appointed leaders in their use or abuse of emergency powers.
We’ve given the Governor substantial emergency powers, and in a declared emergency it’s important that he or she can take action quickly.
But once the emergency has gone on for half a month (or in this case, over 2 months!), we want reasonable limits on a Governor’s ability to shut down the economy, distribute hundreds of millions of federal dollars, and force us to change the way we live.
By adding this element of accountability, we give this Governor (and future ones) political support, wise counsel, and specific ways to know how a plan is working and – importantly - what the public can expect from elected leaders.
Finally, we want counties and their health departments to have greater freedom to create policies that are right for their people. We can be smarter than impose a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
We might be in the minority, but these are ‘majority concerns’; can’t wait to engage our Democrat friends on these and other issues.