My recent guest editorial in the Hometown Weekly about women’s issues (click here)
Jobs & Economy
Our first priority should be getting people back to work and creating sustainable jobs in this state. Many of our other challenges – budget pressures, education funding, the stretching of the social safety net – stem from our high unemployment.
The state legislature can make a difference. We need to:
Create an on-bill financing program for home and business retrofitting. Many more home and business owners will participate in energy-saving retrofitting programs when they are offered low interest loans that can be paid directly from their utility bills.
Expand access to capital for small businesses. Colorado currently has a small revolving line of credit available for qualifying businesses which has been successful. The expansion of this program will mean more businesses can access credit and create jobs.
Create a regional or statewide venture capital fund. This fund will provide access to capital for businesses that will most benefit Colorado workers.
Encourage expansion of public-private partnerships. Our universities create innovative ideas all the time. If Colorado provides the necessary support, we can turn those ideas into viable businesses.
Fix our budget and education funding problems. Our budget system is broken and that hurts education and our economy. Fewer businesses will move to Colorado if our schools continue to suffer from budget cuts. In the longer term, our workforce will be less prepared to lead in an innovation dependent economy. A well-educated workforce will insure the long-term growth of our economy.
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We are fortunate to live in a beautiful place but we must work hard to keep it that way.
Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”): oil and gas companies should not be allowed to pursue hydraulic fracturing in our neighborhoods until they prove it is safe. There are many valid concerns about water and other environmental damage that must be adequately addressed. At the same time, at the state legislature I will work to strengthen statewide regulations, inspections, and enforcement and push for more local control over drilling operations.
Green energy economy: Colorado has become a national leader in the production and use of green energy in just a few years. We should continue that progress by further encouraging green industries and again increasing our statewide renewable energy standard.
On-bill financing for home and business retrofitting: Right now, our county benefits from the EnergySmart home and business energy-saving retrofitting program but future funding is uncertain. My first bill in the 2013 session will be an on-bill financing program for retrofitting improvements. It will work like this:
- As a home or business owner, you want to install energy-saving improvements but you do not have the money to cover the costs.
- An energy audit determines your improvements will create an average utility bill monthly savings of 25%.
- You will have access to a low interest loan to cover the costs of your retrofitting improvements.
- The loan payments will occur straight from your utility bill in an amount not to exceed your utility payments before retrofitting. In other words, if you save 25% from the retrofitting, that 25% savings will go towards the low interest loan until it is paid.
- After the loan is paid, your utility bill will then decrease to reflect the energy savings from the retrofitting.
On-bill financing will greatly increase the demand for retrofitting programs across the state. It will create good jobs, save money for home and business owners, increase value of homes and businesses, and benefit our environment at the same time.
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Our campaign finance system is out of control. Statewide candidates must raise millions of dollars to be competitive. Remarkably, the Supreme Court has indicated that money is the same as speech and corporations are the same as people. Outside groups with generic names like “Western Tradition Partnership” dump huge sums of money into local races, yet we know nothing about who or what gave that money in the first place. Confidence in our democracy is at an all-time low because we feel powerless against rich donor and corporate money.
The only way to truly reform our campaign finance system is through a constitutional amendment. In the meantime, we can enact statewide measures that will increase transparency:
- We can require any outside group who participates in a local or statewide race to disclose their donors. If they want to be a part of the debate here, they must tell us who they are.
- Our current campaign finance disclosure reporting system is very difficult to navigate. We can set up e-mail alerts that notify any interested party of any individual or group who contributes to any campaign.
Recent municipal elections showed us that an educated public can offset large corporate contributions. Increased transparency is the key and I will fight for it as your State Representative.
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We must make sure our children receive a high quality education. By any measure, our K-12 and higher education systems are severely underfunded. While the level of state funding is not the only factor determining school success, undoubtedly it does not help when school budgets are significantly cut year after year.
Not only have recent budget cuts harmed our schools, but they are forced to charge much more for extracurricular activities or even riding the bus to school, pushing the burden onto families who are already struggling. K-12 schools are not the only ones having to make tough budget choices. Tuition at the University of Colorado has almost doubled in the last five years
At the state legislature, we must:
- Make sure school funding is restored as our economy recovers and revenue increases.
- Continue to push for new revenue sources.
- Encourage creative public-private partnerships that better prepare students for the workforce and benefit local businesses.
- Make sure the state does not impose costly new requirements on schools without providing the funding.
The most fundamental way to improve our community, create jobs, and encourage innovation is to educate our children. As your State Representative, I will fight to ensure a successful future for HD-12 and all of Colorado.
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