What We’re Watching: House Bill 1237

This legislative session, the Colorado Chamber continues to advocate for priorities that advance its 10-year strategic action plan for a better business climate. A key focus area of that plan is to improve Colorado’s cost of living, which currently ranks among the highest in the nation.

Colorado’s declining affordability is a critical economic issue – 76% of business leaders said it’s a top barrier for attracting talent in the Chamber’s recent annual CEO poll. The cost and availability of child care across Colorado plays a major role in the state’s cost-of-living crisis, with many business leaders linking the issue to workforce shortages. According to data from ReadyNation, the Colorado economy loses approximately $2.2 billion annually due to the shortage of child care.

In 2022, the average cost of infant child care in the state was $19,573 per year for an infant and $16,307 per year for a toddler. When compared to median household incomes in the state, child care for one infant can account for about 16.4% of annual income for a married couple household and 49.3% for a single-parent household in Colorado.

In order to improve Colorado’s cost of living, the Chamber’s Vision 2033 plan identifies the goal of retaining and strengthening incentives for expanded child care. The Chamber’s 2024 legislative agenda also prioritizes improving the affordability of and access to child care.

That’s why the Colorado Chamber this week endorsed House Bill 1237, which would create three new grant programs to ease the creation and development of child care facilities. The programs focus on technical, regulatory and financial support to plan for and construct facilities statewide. Expanding the number of child care facilities across the state will help alleviate issues of access and cost for working families, making more Coloradans available for employment and expanding the talent pool for business recruitment.

HB 1237 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation, Housing and Local Government Committee on March 6.