In this Capitol Report:
- 2018 Legislative Session Opens: Hope and Bipartisanship Spring Eternal
- EPA Announces New CPP Repeal Listening Sessions, Including In Region 8
- CACI Celebrates Loren Furman’s 10 Year Service Anniversary
- Follow the Play-by-Play Legislative Action . . .
- Curtain Rises on Legislative Session: Leaders and Governor Outline Agendas
- The Candidates: 2018 Gubernatorial Hopefuls
- Guest Speakers Announced for CACI's January Council Meetings
- Sign Up Now! Sponsor a CACI Council Meeting
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2018 Legislative Session Opens: Hope and Bipartisanship Spring Eternal
With the opening day ceremonies and speeches out of the way, state lawmakers are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work under the Gold Dome.
Swirling around the business bills that will be the focus of CACI’s lobbying work this year will be many other important issues—some more directly tied to the business community than others–including alleged sexual harassment at the Capitol, reform of the PERA (the public employees’ retirement system), the opioid epidemic and rural economic development (including increased access to broadband).
Governing the debate over all bills will be the fact that 2018 is an election year. Once again, political control at the statehouse is split between the Democrats, who control the House, and the Republicans, who control the Senate.
The majority Senate Republicans this session, however, now have a two-vote margin over the minority Democrats. Term-limited Senator Cheri Jahn (Wheat Ridge) recently changed her party affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated.
For CACI and the statewide business community that it represents, the most important issues will again be ones that have been debated by legislators in past sessions.
This session features, however, one new, major wrinkle: more money.
The December revenue forecast by Legislative Council economists projects an additional $962.7 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year beginning July 1st largely because of the enactment of the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its effect on Colorado’s tax base. This amount represents an 8.7 percent revenue increase above what the legislature had approved for spending and the reserve for the current 2017-2018 budget year, which ends June 30th.
Consequently, political wrangling between Republicans and Democrats over how to allocate the additional revenue will be a hallmark aspect of the session.
Last year, SB-267, among other things, provided a $1.9 billion down-payment towards addressing the reported $9 billion need over the next decade for new funding to modernize and expand the state’s roads-and-bridges to handle the Colorado’s economic growth and booming population. CACI supported the bill. The bill also will begin to provide $100 million per year from the General Fund for transportation.
The Governor called yesterday for the legislature to refer to the voters a measure for the November ballot to increase taxes to pay for transportation improvements. Prior to his speech, he had called for $1148 million of the revenue to go to transportation.
Many Republican legislators, however, oppose this idea. Last year, a bipartisan bill to put the question before the voters of increasing the state sales tax died. Many Republicans believe that money should be found in the State’s General Fund budget for transportation,
Instead, this year, the Senate Republicans; first bill, SB-1, “Transportation Infrastructure Funding,” would (a) take $300 million annually from the projected increase in state revenue for transportation funding and then (b) ask voters in November to approve the issuance of up to $3.5 billion to fund transportation.
The money would be used to widen I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument Hill, expand I-25 in northern Colorado, and expand I-70 in the mountains to the west.
Here’s the bill’s summary:
Concerning transportation infrastructure funding, and, in connection therewith, requiring the transportation commission to submit a ballot question to the voters of the state at the November 2018 general election, which, if approved, would authorize the state, with no increase in any taxes, to issue additional transportation revenue anticipation notes for the purpose of addressing critical priority transportation needs in the state by funding transportation projects; would exclude note proceeds and investment earnings on note proceeds from state fiscal year spending limits; would repeal an existing requirement that the state treasurer execute lease-purchase agreements for the purpose of funding transportation projects; and would require ten percent of state sales and use tax net revenue to be credited to the state highway fund for the purpose of repaying any notes issued and funding transportation projects.
In her opening-day speech, House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) called for more money for transportation but did not specify a number, saying that transportation would have to compete with other priorities for the new revenue.
While localities in northern Colorado continue to try to enact ordinances to restrict oil-and-gas production, attention at the State Capitol will be focused on the problem of abandoned wells and pipelines because of the fatal explosion last year at a residence in northern Colorado that killed two men that was caused by a leaking, abandoned gas line. CACI anticipates efforts at the State Capitol to restrict oil-and-gas production as has been the case in past sessions.
The Colorado Energy Office
A Republican bill would expand the Office’s responsibilities to include coal, oil and gas beyond its past portfolio of renewable energy.
Last year’s bipartisan, landmark achievement to jump-start the construction of condominiums was HB-1279. Nonetheless, the lack of affordable housing plagues many communities. Employers find it difficult to attract and retain workers because of the affordable housing shortage.
K-12 education proponents are calling for more money for schools to address the $828 million deficit in funding called for by Amendment 23, which voters approved in 2000 and which mandates increased K-12 spending each year, but which the legislature has not funded because of revenue shortfalls since the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and other, competing demands. The $828 million shortfall is known as the “negative factor” at the State Capitol.
CACI members with questions about business issues or specific bills should contact Loren Furman, CACI Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, at 303.866.9642.
News Media Coverage of the Opening of the Session
“Gov. Hickenlooper addresses roads, rural needs, marijuana in State of the State,” by Joey Bunch, Marianne Goodland and Ernest Luning, Colorado Politics, January 11th.
“In final State of the State, Hickenlooper outlines ambitious agenda that targets unfinished business,” by John Frank, Brian Eason and Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, January 11th.
“State of the State: Hickenlooper seeks more money for Colorado roads, education, broadband,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 11th.
“Colorado Senate president calls for bipartisanship on opening day of legislature, moves quickly on transportation with funding bill,” by Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, January 10th.
“Colorado Legislature 2018: 1st-day bills tackle road funding, paid leave, oil and gas regulations,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 10th.
“Sexual harassment cast a big cloud over Colorado lawmakers ambitions on the legislature’s opening day,” by John Frank, Brian Eason and Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, January 10th.
“Legislative session gets going under the gold dome with talk of compromise,” by Marianne Goodland and Joey Bunch, Colorado Politics, January 10th.
“On eve of final state address, Hickenlooper reflects on public-private partnerships,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 10th.
“Colorado Legislature 2018: Session opens amid wave of anti-growth sentiment,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 10th.
“A look at the top 8 issues for the 2018 legislative session in Colorado,” by John Frank and Brian Eason, The Denver Post, January 9th.
“Colorado Senate Republicans will introduced road-bonding bill on Legislature’s 1st day,” by Ed Sealover, The Denver Business Journal, January 8th.
EPA Announces New CPP Repeal Listening Sessions, Including In Region 8
CACI Files Comments With the EPA on Behalf of Our Members
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced three additional listening sessions to hear public opinion about the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan (CPP). These upcoming sessions will take place in Kansas City (2/21), San Francisco (2/28) and Gillette, WY (3/27) — likely meaning the EPA’s official comment period will also be extended beyond the current January 16, 2018, deadline.
CACI circulated draft repeal comments to our Energy & Environment Council mid-December 2017 to early January 2018. Your feedback and comments are appreciated and reflected in the comments CACI filed with the EPA on our members’ behalf. If you wish to comment individually prior to the current deadline, click here.
For those interested in attending or participating in the nearest listening session:
Gillette Listening Session
Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Time: 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
Location: Gillette College Technical Education Center, 3251 South 4-J Road, Gillette, WY 82718
- If you wish to speak at this listening session, check the EPA’s webpage regularly as registration information will be posted as soon as official notice is published in the Federal Register. As of January 11, 2018, registration was not yet available.
CACI Celebrates Loren Furman’s 10 Year Service Anniversary
The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry offers heartfelt congratulations to Loren Furman, Senior Vice President of State and Federal Relations, on her ten years of service to our organization. Loren joined CACI in 2008 and serves at the chief lobbyist at the state capitol. CACI’s President Chuck Berry says, “Loren has been and continues to be a terrific asset for CACI and all of our business members! She is certainly the top lobbyist at the state Capitol for Colorado employers on broad-based business issues.” As we commend Loren on her many accomplishments over the past ten years we look forward to many more rewarding years in the future.
Follow the Play-by-Play Legislative Action . . .
CACI members who wish to closely follow the legislature’s work have several avenues.
First, one can watch the floor sessions of both the House and the Senate on the Colorado Channel, which is Comcast Channel 165. On one day, the House will first be broadcast live and then the Senate will be broadcast after the House adjourns. The next day, the Senate will be broadcast live first with the House following Senate adjournment.
Second, both chambers’ floor sessions can be viewed individually live via Internet streaming by going to the legislature’s Web site.
Third, one can listen to floor sessions and committee hearings via the Internet, again from the legislature’s Web site.
For the schedule of each chamber’s committee hearings and floor sessions, look at the chamber’s calendar on the legislature’s Web site.
Curtain Rises on Legislative Session: Leaders and Governor Outline Agendas
On Wednesday, the legislative leaders of the House and the Senate gaveled the Second Regular Session of the 71st Colorado General Assembly into session.
The majority and minority leaders of the Republican and Democrat caucuses of the House of Representatives and the Senate painted broad, sometimes differing, pictures of Colorado, its problems and their proposed solutions to address the challenges.
Opening-day speeches are famous for calls for bipartisan cooperation, but statehouse veterans know well that partisan politics—especially in a critical election year—quickly surfaces as the days and weeks pass and legislators dive into the specifics of legislation.
Yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper delivered his final State of the State address to a joint session of the two chambers in the House of Representatives
Following are excerpts that pertain to business issues from the prepared speeches by each chamber’s majority and minority leader and by Governor Hickenlooper.
Governor John Hickenlooper
We now have a little more sanity in our budget.
And hospitals in rural Colorado that would have closed, continue to serve thousands of patients.
Jennifer Riley, an executive at Memorial Regional Health in Craig, told us, “You helped keep our doors open. Thank you.”
Last year, we reformed construction defects. And slowly, we’re building more condos.
We delivered a modest deposit on our broadband initiative.
And today, a high-schooler in Julesburg is taking remote business classes so perhaps one day he can start his own company.
For the first time we used marijuana taxes for a homeless initiative. We helped people save their own lives.
Last year wasn’t always pretty…progress isn’t always painless…
But it was the most impactful, bipartisan legislative session since the great recession.
So we will not let up. We won’t stop to enjoy the view. We have a lot to accomplish in the next 119 days:
- We need to find the right solution to PERA’s unfunded liability.
- We need to pass legislation to safely cap orphan wells.
- We need to halt the opioid epidemic that continues to destroy lives and families, and disproportionately affects our rural communities.
- We need to enact a K-12 and Infrastructure Funding Plan . . . that will help make the Water Plan a reality.
- We need legislation and funds to ensure full broadband buildout in rural areas.
- And we need to protect our rural communities by addressing the intense, negative impact the Gallagher amendment has had, and will have, in the future.
It’s a commonsense agenda.
Companies need affordable, quality health care.
We have some of the most expensive counties for health care in the country…and fourteen counties only have one option on the exchange – all of them are in rural areas.
We need our friends in Washington to finally move past the tired fight over the Affordable Care Act. It’s not perfect, and we need to strengthen it in lots of ways
— but it has helped reduce our uninsured rate by half. 600,000 Coloradans — many from rural parts of the state — now have coverage who didn’t before. It has helped save lives.
However, we all can agree that America spends too much on healthcare and gets too little for it.
This is an economic argument as much as a health related one.
The year before the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of bankruptcies were caused by medical debt…that’s over 100,000 individuals and families! — a disproportionate number in rural areas.
The following year, the ACA helped reduce that number by sixty percent. More than 60,000 families…didn’t go through the trauma of bankruptcy.
When we’re secure in our health care, we’re more likely to take a chance and start a business.
While many conversations around affordable housing are confined to the front range, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority has supported housing projects all across Colorado.
They’ve invested over thirteen billion dollars across the state. We should increase our affordable housing tax credits by fifty percent — these are matching funds that work only with local investment.
If we believe private enterprise is part of the solution, CHFA is one of the answers.
I’m forgetting some other type of infrastructure…what is it? OH right, the multi-billion dollar hole in our roads.
It’s about connecting to our communities, our jobs, our markets, and the people we love.
And good infrastructure creates good jobs. These are facts:
Fort Morgan voters said “yes” to raising their sales tax, so they could get to work repairing their city streets.
And El Paso County voted for new lanes on I-25.
Coloradans WANT to invest in our quality of life–because of our affection for Colorado.
And allow us to pass that affection confidently on to the next generation.
That’s why communities are easing traffic with bike lanes and creating walkable areas. And in response to demand from southwest Colorado and other rural parts of the state, Bustang is expanding routes.
It’s part of why we partnered with Panasonic to see how we can link vehicles with smart highways and save lives . . . futuristic transportation companies like Arrivo, Otto, and Hyperloop One are making Colorado a testing ground.
But we can’t innovate our way out of traffic jams without the resources.
Coloradans spend hundreds of dollars a year extra per car on repairs and operating costs as a result of bad road conditions. We waste dozens of hours a year in traffic.
The cost of asphalt and concrete continue to rise; yet we haven’t increased the state gas tax in over twenty-five years.
We’ve been driving on a flat tire for a quarter century. All while Utah raised their gas tax twice.
Not only do we under-fund maintenance by more than two-hundred million dollars per year, but we also have a project list of nine billion dollars. Total needs are estimated to be twenty-five billion dollars by 2040.
And that’s all on top of CDOT’s existing budget.
Last year, we committed 1.9 billion dollars in financing for roads when we addressed the Hospital Provider Fee. Soon, thanks to Senate Bill 267, we will see a one-hundred million dollar per year commitment in General Fund revenue towards those roads.
Last week we proposed another 148 million dollars from increased revenues.
And then, in the coming years, our proposal for future revenues will continue to dedicate more than 100 million dollars per year on top of that – also from the General Fund.
That’s progress. But it still won’t be enough to solve our transportation problem, and it doesn’t devote a single dollar to our city and county roads and bridges.
We need to be even more ambitious. It’s time we look at a long term solution with a sustainable funding source.
There’s broad agreement — across party lines.
Coloradans deserve the opportunity to vote on whether we need new resources and where they should come from.
It’s time to go to the voters.
When we invest in education today, we make our kids more competitive tomorrow. When we modernize our infrastructure…we lay the groundwork for the jobs of the future. When we stand up for common sense approaches to health care and get more people covered, we lower costs and save lives for years to come.
In 2016 and 2017, despite having a split General Assembly, the majority of the bills that made it to the floor passed both houses, and with bipartisan support. When everyone said we couldn’t accomplish construction defects reform — we did it! When no one believed that we could pass a bill equalizing charter school funding — we did it! We’ve done the tough work before – let us recommit ourselves to doing it again. Let us not fall to the temptation of blaming the other side for incomplete work. Our constituents are like our teachers, and as students, excuses can only go so far.
In speaking with many of you and listening to concerned constituents, there are six issues that stand out to me as being a top priority for 2018. Many of these issues aren’t black and white. There isn’t a Republican or Democrat way to fill a pothole, but I’d argue there is a Colorado way, and that’s if we do it together.
Today, let us commit ourselves to maintaining and building the roads of Colorado. These roads, albeit not flashy, and often taken for granted, are Colorado’s veins, allowing the lifeblood of our State, our people, and the economy they support, to travel efficiently and affordably.
Between 1991 and 2015, the number of drivers on our roads increased from 3.3 million to 5.4 million, and projections estimate 7.8 million by 2040. Unfortunately, our investment in this vital infrastructure has fallen from $125.70 per person to just $68.94 per person.
This reduction has left many of our roads and highways in disrepair, or woefully inadequate for their volume, and for years we’ve failed to produce meaningful solutions. This issue is one that greatly affects our lower and middle class residents, as potholes and other road defects that can damage vehicles creates the greatest issue for those that are already having trouble making ends meet.
And let us not forget those who rely on the roads beyond simple a daily commute. The Colorado Motor Carriers Association estimated that nearly 100,000 jobs stem from the trucking industry in Colorado as of 2016. 79% of Colorado communities rely exclusively on trucking to move their goods, and 89% of total manufacturing tonnage is transported via truck. Colorado’s roads are their offices. If the flooring was falling apart in your office, wouldn’t you fix it?
I applaud the Governor for moving in the right direction with his budget proposal, putting an additional $148 million into our roads. While I personally believe that number should be higher, the fact remains that we are moving in the right direction.
Let’s invest in something meaningful, our roads, and benefits will stem from every corner of Colorado, in every neighborhood, and possibly in every household.
To this end, today Senators Cooke and Baumgardner will sponsor Senate Bill 1. This legislation will commit a portion of the forecasted revenue surplus year over year to the tune of approximately $300 million and will refer a measure to the voters of Colorado this November asking their permission to issue bonds on this commitment so that we can finally expand the I-25 gap from Monument to Castle Rock, so that we can finally expand I-25 North, and so that we can finally expand the I-70 West Mountain corridor. With this measure we will be able to finally start on the Tier 1 portion of the massive backlog in CDOT’s project list.
Today, let us commit to finding solutions to bring broadband to our rural communities across Colorado. We have an opportunity to advance the education, economic growth, and healthcare systems of Colorado by ensuring that every corner of our State is effectively connected to the internet.
Whether it’s the 5th grader in Dove Creek trying to get his homework done or the business owner in Creede wanting to sell his goods online, or a hospital in Hugo researching life-saving solutions for their patient, there are few opportunities that can bring so much benefit to so many Coloradans.
We have a duty to ensure that internet service providers can provide fast internet connections to every household in Colorado. Where our State has neglected to invest previously, we must prioritize, and where our State Government has gotten in the way, we need to reign it in. In fact, as I stand here right now there are potential decisions being made right across the street that could use existing grant dollars to overbuild existing infrastructure. Any legislation that we propose must protect existing providers from government subsidized competition. Any funds that we create here should be used to improve truly unserved areas of the state.
The internet has brought more people together, allowed more economic mobility, and advanced research and technology unlike anything mankind has ever seen before. A true child of the free market, it belongs to no one man or any government, it belongs to the people. It has been around for decades now, and it’s time to make sure every Coloradan has access to it.
Senators Coram and Sonnenberg will be leading the effort this year to finally bring a solution to funding and access to rural broadband.
Today, let us commit to reforming our Energy Office and implementing energy policies that embraces all forms of energy for our residents.
Personally, I don’t care if it’s oil, natural gas, wind, solar, coal, nuclear, hydro, or if they find some way to harness the power of the hot air rising from the Capitol Dome, I am for a diverse energy portfolio in the State of Colorado, and we should all be for that.
As new energy forms emerge, we must also not forget the traditional forms of energy, like oil and gas, that employ approximately 100,000 of our residents and bring around $30 billion in economic activity each and every year. Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers. Instead, let’s open the markets and encourage energy development in all sectors that keeps and brings jobs to Colorado while lowering heating bills to consumers in each and every one of our districts.
I’d like to thank Senator Scott for taking the lead on this issue with a bill that will modernize, repurpose, and redefine the mission of the energy office, focusing on an all-of-the-above energy policy for Colorado.
Last year, Republicans and Democrats in this chamber pushed a bipartisan effort to fund our hospitals, education, and transportation. As part of that legislation was a request for a 2% reduction in spending for every department except for education and transportation. As we all know, this request was not honored. That is why Senator Sonnenberg will be proposing a reduction in Colorado’s income tax rate, proportionate with that 2%. If this government can’t live up to its guarantees, than we are better giving the money back to Colorado taxpayers.
Rent, housing, childcare, healthcare. The cost of living marches to new heights every year, but paychecks stay the same.
Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans work full-time jobs that pay less than what it takes to keep a family of four out of poverty.
Despite having one of the strongest economies in the country, Colorado spends roughly $2,000 less per K-12 public school student than the national average — lagging behind 37 other states.
The obscene cost of healthcare continues to drive families into debilitating debt when a loved one gets sick or injured — even if they have insurance.
These are just a small sample of the challenges we must face together. The question remains whether or not we can summon the collective courage to put partisanship aside and advance an agenda that improves the lives of the working and middle class.
In years past, we’ve seen far too many bipartisan bills die along party-line votes in Republican-controlled Senate Committees.
A bipartisan affordable housing bill offering relief from obscenely high housing costs in urban and rural Colorado alike — killed.
A badly-needed transportation bill, which saw collaboration from both parties — died in committee.
Effort after effort to finally expand high-speed broadband Internet to our rural and mountain communities — blocked.
Today, I invite us to look past conventional partisan labels, Democrat, Republican and Independent…and work to advance a policy agenda that truly serves the working class:
Let’s work together to make healthcare available for all.
* Let’s create a public option that gives every resident of our state the choice to get affordable care through Health First Colorado.
* Let’s legally brand pharmaceutical price gouging as what it is — a deceptive trade practice — and create real consequences for companies that maximize their profits at the expense of access to life saving drugs.
* Let’s continue our bipartisan work to confront the opioid crisis by expanding access treatment and addiction counseling, stopping the over-prescription of dangerously addictive pain medications, and fight to keep the cost of behavioral health services as low as possible.
Let’s work together to join nearly every other nation on earth in providing paid leave for the people of Colorado. Let’s stop forcing parents to choose between being present for some of the most precious moments in their children’s lives and putting food on the table. Let’s stop forcing workers from going to work with the flu because they have no other option.
As state employees, elected officials like us have the opportunity to earn paid time off. How can we continue to deny the people of Colorado the same opportunity?
Let’s make sure every Colorado has access to high-speed broadband Internet — an absolute necessity for modern life and business.
* Far too many rural and mountain communities across Colorado remain isolated from the growing opportunities offered by broadband services.
* Many students in schools across Colorado are falling behind because of the lack of access to reliable Internet.
* Doctors and nurses and physician assistants cannot serve people who live far from their offices through telemedicine without high-speed Internet.
* Ranchers, farmers, and exciting startup programs throughout rural Colorado remain at a disadvantage.
* This year, there is a bipartisan bill to usher in a major expansion of broadband Internet access.
Our colleagues are ready, the people are ready. Internet Service Providers must get with the program this year. Let’s make it happen.
On these and so many other issues, we have an opportunity to create a Colorado where the building blocks of a good life are available to everyone, not just a privileged few.
Finally, I cannot in good conscience let today pass without speaking to this unique moment in political history. In order to be genuine advocates for the working class, we must be honest about the root causes of one of the most urgent problems plaguing our society: the ever-widening gulf between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us.
The truth is that the economic struggles of the middle and working class are not the inevitable outcome of economic forces beyond our control. They are a direct result of a broken system where money buys access and influence for powerful interests at the expense of everybody else.
A political system corrupted by money is at the core of almost every major issue we face.
Elected officials who fail to acknowledge this reality are part of the problem. If we want to solve it, we can start by giving a stronger voice back to the people we serve.
While we can’t control what happens at the federal level, we can continue to protect state-level politics here in Colorado from the same fate.
Anti-corruption reform will be at the heart of our agenda in 2018 because we must do everything in our power to build a political system that truly works for the people.
This legislative session, we are introducing a bill that will cap the flow of unlimited money into county and school board elections. And we will fight to require transparency from the monied interests pouring millions of dollars into our elections.
After years of effort, we made a bipartisan breakthrough on a budget restructure called the hospital provider fee. Fixing it saved hospitals around the state from more than half a billion dollars in budget cuts. Those cuts would have impacted every hospital in the state, and would
have been fatal to some of our smaller hospitals in rural areas of Colorado.
The same bill that saved rural hospitals freed up an additional 100 million dollars that are being used to leverage 1.9 billion dollars in new transportation projects around the state.
From Johnstown to the Four Corners, from Rifle to Pueblo, you will see investments in transportation infrastructure from this important bill. Some of the most significant improvements will be felt on our interstate highways.
Our bipartisan legislation allows us to fund projects to relieve pressure on I-25 and I-70, as well as many other locally controlled projects.
In 2017 we also resolved a thorny issue that we hope will help address our housing needs by spurring more condo development.
Our bipartisan legislation will help Colorado homeowners make informed decisions about construction defect claims while ensuring their ability to protect what for most of them is their single biggest investment — their homes.
Our goal is to restore some balance to the real estate market and ease a housing crunch that has made home ownership unattainable for too many Coloradans.
This bill passed the General Assembly by a combined vote of 97 to 0. For what we can achieve when we check our egos at the door, roll up our sleeves and hammer out bipartisan solutions to problems facing Coloradans, I can think of no finer example than construction defects.
Members, Colorado’s population is growing by more than 180 people per day.
Some of the legislation we’ve passed in recent years has helped us absorb this influx.
We have promoted economic development and workforce development programs so that more Coloradans have the education and training they need to get the high-skill, high-tech jobs that our economy is now producing in great numbers.
Colorado overall has one of the strongest state economies in America. That’s wonderful because it means lots of opportunities for people in our state. But there are downsides.
Wages aren’t rising as fast as the overall economy. And the economy isn’t booming in every community in the state. Many areas of rural and small-town Colorado are treading water, or even drowning.
We need to ensure that communities outside the Front Range have the tools to compete in a global economy by providing more broadband service, more teachers and more medical services, just for starters.
And because getting to and from work shouldn’t be the hardest part of Coloradans’ daily routine, we have to repair and improve our overburdened roads and expand our transportation options to keep up with our growing population and economy.
Forecasts for the next budget indicate that state revenue is substantially exceeding previous estimates, giving us the ability to make new investments in key statewide priorities.
Let me be clear: transportation funding is a priority.
Our Colorado students are also a priority.
We will have the opportunity to address chronically low funding for K-12 and higher education.
During this session we will be reviewing every part of the state budget to assure that it balances the priorities and needs of the people of Colorado.
Growth has also driven up the cost of housing in many areas of Colorado. The American Dream includes being able to own a home.
For more and more middle-income Coloradans, and not just in the Denver area, home ownership is out of reach.
Many people feel like they are being pushed out of the very communities they grew up in.
And rent increases make it harder and harder to make ends meet.
We need to take action to make renting more affordable and homeownership more attainable for Coloradans.
Hard-working Coloradans deserve a secure retirement, but almost half of Coloradans have no employer-sponsored or personal retirement plan. We will see a bill this session to increase access to retirement plans for our friends and neighbors who have none.
A secure retirement must also be attainable for the 560,000 current or retired public servants – teachers who have taught us and our children, state troopers who have patrolled our highways and CDOT drivers who have plowed them – all those who have delivered essential services to the people of our state.
Steps must be taken to strengthen PERA, the state pension fund, to ensure that we honor the commitment we’ve made to our state and public-sector employees.
But it would be unfair to balance PERA solely on the backs of hard-working public servants.
Likewise, slashing cost-of-living adjustments for retired state employees could put many of them deeper in the hole every time the cost of living rises. Our goals must include a PERA solution that ensures its long-term solvency while being fair to current employees and retirees.
We’ll also consider a variety of proposals to help Coloradans balance the responsibilities of their work and their families.
We can increase access to affordable child care, so fewer Colorado moms and dads are forced to choose between keeping a job or staying at home.
This isn’t just an issue for families. It’s an issue that impacts our entire economy.
We can improve family leave laws so more Coloradans can take paid time off to care for a sick parent or loved one without having to quit their jobs, or risk being fired.
We can also address the high cost of health care, especially in rural areas of Colorado where premiums are through the roof.
And we can provide additional protections to Colorado consumers.
For example, because corporations dictate the “fine print,” Coloradans sign away their rights almost every time they buy a product or service. When something goes wrong, irresponsible corporations need to be held accountable and consumers deserve fair processes that are not tilted against them.
In all seriousness, the citizens of Colorado have elected us to solve various problems facing our state. And while we all know politics plays a role in the process, for the next 120 days our job is to focus on legislation to improve the lives of the citizens of our State. When we work together – as we did hundreds of times last year – we can meet that goal in spite of our political differences.
I read an interesting story the other day. The backdrop to the story involved the number of people coming to Colorado. Who can blame them?
But the story itself was about the large number of people leaving Colorado because Colorado is no longer affordable. Leaving because they see hours of their lives wasted in traffic. Leaving because the costs of home, auto and health insurance have soared. Leaving because all the beauty and adventure they came here to enjoy has been tainted by rising prices and stress. These issues are no different for those who’ve spent their whole lives here.
We want to make Colorado affordable. We want to make Colorado affordable and enjoyable again by the actions we take as legislators this session when it comes to: prioritizing funding for cleaner, safer roads and bridges; lowering the regulatory barriers that businesses, and especially new businesses encounter; enabling students and teachers to find success in education; legalizing affordable health insurance plans and providing consumer choice; we aim to do this while insuring our human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness continue to be recognized.
It costs a lot to live here, and costs have gone up. Having grown up on the Front Range, started a family and worked in a small business, I have witnessed with some dismay the rapid increase in the cost of living in Colorado. I am sure all of you can attest to this as well.
During the interim, Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist and I, along with some other members, toured many parts of Colorado and took time to learn about some of the issues contributing to higher costs.
For example: we visited the Colorado National Speedway in Dacono and heard how new mandates and regulations are threatening the low-cost entertainment that thousands of families enjoy there; elsewhere we heard from small rural communities that are concerned about the lack of new housing and infrastructure; while visiting a visionary health care provider in Pueblo, we learned about a state computer program that is delaying critical Medicaid reimbursement payments to hospitals and providers; a recent study I saw found that a first-year teacher cannot afford to rent even a 1 bedroom apartment in four of the largest districts in our state.
The cost to buy or rent a home has increased by more than 100 percent over the last 10 years, the costs of auto, home and health insurance have increased exponentially, and the increasing cost of doing business is typically passed on to the consumer. The drip, drip, drip of paying for basic needs is draining people of the optimism and hope that should be natural for residents of this great state.
I raise these points because many of the laws we will debate this session could directly impact Colorado’s affordability. Government programs bring with them the baggage of unintended consequences.
Just as it’s possible for a person to bleed to death from a thousand small cuts, so it’s possible for a state to become unaffordable by a thousand small regulations.
At a time when our national economy is beginning to gain momentum and return to health, we must be very careful about adding new regulatory and legal burdens to our citizens; instead, we should work together to make our state affordable again. In this, we have a choice to make.
As Assistant Minority Leader Wist and I traveled this summer, we were regularly asked about the poor shape of our roads, the lack of lane miles, and the lack of funding for Colorado’s aging infrastructure. My response was as simple then as it is today: “we have enough money to fix our problems. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
A few weeks ago the revenue forecast indicated we will have almost a Billion dollars more revenue than expected for fiscal year 2018-19. There is no reason why nearly all of this new revenue should not go to widening highways, adding lane miles throughout the state and rebuilding traditional infrastructure.
We believe we can build newer, safer roads and bridges without raising taxes. If we can fix a problem that will make Colorado a more affordable and enjoyable place to live, why not do that? Why make Colorado even less affordable by imposing a new tax for ‘transportation’?
And while I’m on the topic of transportation, let me clarify something for those listening. In the past, when we used the word “transportation”, we understood, and most people understood, the word meant ‘roads and bridges’. Most Coloradans say better ‘roads’ should be a priority for the legislature, and when they hear us talking about ‘transportation’, they assume we’re talking about ‘roads’.
Unfortunately, that assumption is no longer true. As of last year, “transportation” doesn’t mean simply ‘roads and bridges’; instead, it now means “state tax dollars for buses, light rail, heavier rail, bike paths and special lanes for pogo sticks and the like.” The point is, I now use the phrase ‘roads and bridges’ because I want voters to know what I mean, and to understand where our priorities lie.
Members of our caucus will be carrying a bill that will fix our roads, without raising taxes. It will be a perfect opportunity to show our constituencies exactly where roads rank as a priority. I can tell you right now roads are my top priority. Is it yours?
I know some of you may doubt we can prioritize existing revenue for roads. Some may ask what we are willing to cut. But members, this is not Washington D.C., and decreasing the governor’s proposed increases is not a cut.
To everyone listening: we can fix our roads and fund essential state services with existing revenue. Members, the Governor’s budget proposal is $1.09 billion larger than last year, and $10 billion larger than 2009 when Governor Hickenlooper first took office. And we’ve just come into an additional $1b in revenue. My question to the members in this room who think we need more from the taxpayers is this: “how much is enough”?
Recent news reports suggest that my colleagues across the aisle are already looking at the “many unmet needs” in our state. As the saying goes, ‘when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail’ … and when you’re committed to a big and bigger government, every problem calls for more taxes, programs, and spending.
But if you think like me, we don’t need more revenue – we need more restraint; we need more common sense when it comes how we spend taxpayers’ money. In this, we certainly have a choice to make.
Members, this session we have a choice to make. Are we going to choose to let our state government continue to expand at the expense of industry, commerce, and liberty, or are we going to look for ways to help lower the cost of doing business in Colorado, let the free market inspire more innovation, and find ways to make Colorado affordable again? Do we move forward with policies and oversight that will make Colorado more affordable, or do we simply advocate for higher taxes and more spending? Will we plant fiscal bombs into our budget in the form of costly new programs that will burden us and our children for decades, and put us on the road to bankruptcy and chaos already forged by states like California and Illinois? We’ve tried the bigger government approach, and it doesn’t work. It creates more inequality, more dependence, and more social division. Will we choose to prioritize funding to make a significant step toward safer, cleaner roads and bridges, or will we ask for higher taxes or fees to fund mass transit that cannot pay for itself?
Members, we proved last session that we can put our differences aside, work together, and get things done for the people of our great state. Let’s build on that progress and make this another successful year for the people of Colorado.
The Candidates: 2018 Gubernatorial Hopefuls
Don’t Delay Registration Closing Wednesday, January 17th!
Westin Denver Downtown
Thursday, January 25th
Registration & Networking: 11:15-12:00 Noon
Luncheon Program: 12:00N-1:30 p.m.
Get Your Seat NOW! Register Here
Don’t miss this Gubernatorial Forum and the opportunity to hear the leading candidates for Governor share with CACI members why they would be the best Governor for Colorado’s economy, and for our state’s businesses and workers. The Colorado Chamber’s premier annual event, Colorado Business Day, is designed to bring together CEOs, small business leaders, local chamber executives and elected officials from across the state.
The Honorable Cynthia Coffman
Mr. Noel Ginsberg
Mr. Michael Johnston
The Honorable Donna Lynne
Mr. Victor Mitchell
The Honorable Jared Polis
Mr. Doug Robinson
The Honorable Walker Stapleton
Mr. Tom Tancredo
Ms. Cary Kennedy
Guest Speakers Announced for CACI's January Council Meetings
Policy Councils are at the core of CACI’s work, offering a unique opportunity for CACI members to add their expertise and judgment to our policy-making and influence legislation and regulations that impact business. Council meetings provide an open and frank dialogue between our members, key legislators and state agency leaders. It’s exciting and interesting, and council members really do impact Colorado’s economic future.
Below is a list of guest speakers and potential legislation that will be discussed at each council meeting.
Health Care Council – January 18th
- Tom Massey, Policy and Communications Office Director for the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing
- Kevin Patterson, CEO Connect for Health Colorado
Discussion of Introduced and Anticipated 2018 Legislation:
- HB 18-1007 – Substance Use Disorder Payment And Coverage
- HB 18-1009 – Diabetes Drug Pricing Transparency Act 2018
- SB 18-023 – Promote Off-label Use Pharmaceutical Products
Tax Council January – 19th
- Mark Bolton, Office of the Governor
- Phil Horwitz, Department of Revenue
- Matthew Scott, Department of Revenue
- Eloise Hirsch, Office of Economic Development
Legislation to be Discussed:
- Draft 2018 Market-Based Sourcing Legislation
- Other 2018 Tax Related State Legislation
- Federal Tax Reform and Impact to Colorado Taxpayers
Labor and Employment – January 24th
Guest Speakers from the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment:
- Kristin Corash, Interim Executive Director
- Patrick Teegarden, Director of Policy and Legislation
- Paul Tauriello, Director, Division of Workers Compensation
- Jeff Fitzgerald, Director, Division of Unemployment Insurance
Legislation to be Discussed:
- HB 1001 – Concerning the Creation of a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI program)
- HB 1033 – Concerning the Time In Which Employees Are Entitled To Take Leave To Participate In Elections
- HB 1067 – Concerning the Creation of the “Colorado Right To Rest Act.”
Governmental Affairs Council – January 30th
This is a forum for members to discuss bills pertinent to the current Colorado Legislative Session, as well as hear from the CACI Lobby Team as to our Legislative Agenda for the current year.
Energy and Environment – January 31st
- Senator Jerry Sonnenberg
Legislation to be Discussed:
- To be determined
Sign Up Now! Sponsor a CACI Council Meeting
As the 2018 legislative session approaches, we want to invite you to once again participate in CACI’s Issue Councils. CACI councils offer a unique opportunity for CACI members to add their expertise and judgment to our policy-making and influence legislation and regulations that impact business. Council meetings provide an open and frank dialogue between our members, key legislators and state agency leaders. This is also your chance to attend council meetings that you have not attended in the past. The following Councils are available to all CACI members:
Each Council will meet at Noon at the CACI offices throughout the session. Lunch is served at each meeting. Sponsorship of council meetings by our members is crucial to maintaining the practice of providing lunch to each member during these important council meetings. We need sponsors for every meeting in the coming year, so we would like to encourage members to sign up now to sponsor a lunch! Sponsors receive recognition in both email reminders for the meeting and our online Events Calendar, as well as during the meeting itself. CACI does all of the ordering and setup of the lunch and the sponsorship is always a flat rate of $600. Please contact Laura Moss for more details or to sign up as a sponsor. Again, sponsorship by our members is essential to providing our members with lunch during these meetings; we appreciate your ongoing support!
Please see below for specific dates for each council. Councils always meet from Noon to 1:15 p.m. in the CACI Conference Room: 1600 Broadway, Suite 1000, Colorado State Bank Building.
2018 Council Meeting Dates
|Energy & Environment Council:
|Labor & Employment Council:
|Governmental Affairs Council:
|November 27th (if needed)
To learn more about our councils, click here.
Thank you and please contact Laura Moss with any questions you may have!