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DENVER – The Colorado Chamber of Commerce today hosted a press conference with business leaders representing different sectors and regions of the state to discuss the 2021 legislative session and the growing cost of new taxes, fees and regulations on the business community. Special guest Kristin Strohm, President and CEO of the Common Sense Institute, presented the results of a recent study detailing the cumulative cost recent policies have on Colorado businesses.
“Businesses are struggling to keep workers employed, follow hundreds of public health orders, and simply stay open,” said Loren Furman, Senior Vice President of State and Federal Relations for the Colorado Chamber. “Unfortunately, many businesses haven’t survived the pandemic – that will have a lasting impact on communities across our state… We need our state leaders to simply allow businesses to get back on their feet during this time because that is the only path to economic recovery.”
“You may remember that Colorado was one of the states that really led the country out of the Great Recession,” said Strohm. “We emerged stronger, created jobs faster, because we fostered a strong business climate… The only difference between the last recession and today’s unfortunately is that Colorado has been overwhelmed by an onslaught of new taxes, fees and regulations on business over the last three years.”
The new Common Sense Institute report released yesterday found that recent state policies have created more than $1.8 billion annually in new taxes and fees on the Colorado business community. From paid family and medical leave to unemployment insurance to energy regulations, these costs are directly impacting the ability of businesses to recover from the challenges posed by the pandemic. The full Common Sense Institute report can be viewed here.
“Rules and regulations are part of the business environment,” Tony Gagliardi, Colorado State Director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said. “But regulations come with a negative side. They increase the costs for businesses that have to comply. Much worse than that, they have a disproportionate impact on small businesses and start-ups…The more we have to deal with these regulations and costs imposed by the legislature, the harder it becomes for small businesses to do what they do best, and that is to create jobs and employ the workforce.”
“We all talk about the road to recovery and rebuilding our economy after the cataclysmic events of 2020,” Dave Davia, CEO and Executive Vice President of Rocky Mountain Mechanical Contractors Association said. “But we have to do more than pay that idea lip service. Our state is at risk. Our economy is at risk. And our kids’ future is at risk. Our focus as a state and legislature must be on returning our state to the number one economy in the country, and prosperity for every Coloradan.”
“Policymakers often look at these policies in isolation, but it’s really the cumulative effect that tips the scales.” said Rachel Beck, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC. “The decisions that we make now will set our course… Our ask to legislators is to ensure that taxes, fees and regulations do not stifle a thriving economy or impose an undue burden on businesses. We ask that instead, they help businesses recover and let businesses do what they do best – innovate and grow so that they can put people back to work.”
“Our small businesses are hurting,” Diane Schwenke, President and CEO of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, said. “I think it’s important for all of us to realize that there are faces behind these businesses, and there are things that we need to do to assist them… To legislature, as we move forward with the rest of the session: first, do no harm – and then after that, contemplate ways to help our small businesses weather a storm that has not yet passed. Those should be the priorities to the legislature for the rest of the session.”
“All businesses are under unprecedented pressure to keep their companies viable, protect their teams and their employees, keep them on payroll, and serve customers,” said Kelly Brough, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “What hurts an employer hurts their employees… We know the success of this state depends on the success of keeping businesses open. Businesses fund our state, literally. They pay taxes, and they pay employees who also pay taxes. More Coloradans working means we will all do better.”