A Breckenridge Republican has thrown her hat into the race for Colorado House District 61, saying her intention is to restore representative government to Summit County and the rest of the district.
Debra Irvine has twice run for state office, once in 2010 for HD 56 and again in 2012 for HD 61. However, Irvine said this campaign is different because she did not intend to run again; she was urged to by local Republicans who think their voices are not being heard.
Irvine highlighted several examples during the 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly in which conservative values were buried under the efforts of a Democratic majority — namely gun control and the regulation of Colorado’s energy sector.
Although her home county is not a major energy producer, HD 61, which encompasses Summit, Delta, Gunnison, Lake and Pitkin counties, is rich with coal and natural gas. Those resources not only provide cheap sources of energy, Irvine said, but energy operators also pump billions in tax revenues into their local economies.
“Coal is a more affordable source of electricity than solar and wind — which have their place — but we can’t regulate this industry to death because we’re all going to lose,” Irvine said. “The Renewable Energy Mandates bill is going to increase our electricity costs, which hurts everybody from businesses to families.”
But Irvine saved her harshest critique for an initiative championed by incumbent HD 61 Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon.
“People don’t feel like they are being represented,” Irvine said, using Amendment 66 as an example. “That would have put a billion-dollar burden on the taxpayers, many of whom are still struggling because of the recession.”
Hamner played a significant role in getting Amendment 66 on the November 2013 general election ballot by sponsoring Senate Bill 13-213, the Future School Finance Act. Amendment 66 ultimately was defeated in the statewide vote.
Irvine wasn’t critical of the intent of the legislation, saying everyone on both sides of the aisle wants a quality education system. However, she said the amendment lacked transparency.
“More than $10 million was spent on Amendment 66’s campaign, and a lot of those funds came from out of state,” Irvine said. “Coloradans are willing to sacrifice, but there was a lack of transparency about whether or not those funds would actually make it to the classroom. That’s why I believe Amendment 66 failed.”
Hamner has moved on from Amendment 66, but not the mission, saying she is just as committed to restoring funding to Colorado’s schools as she was a year ago.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, Hamner joined more than a dozen of her colleagues from both sides of the aisle in unveiling the Student Success Act. Hamner is a primary sponsor of the bill, which will be introduced in the House in the next several days.
If passed, the Student Success Act would commit $80 million to districts to reduce recession-era budget cuts, $35 million for English-language learners, $20 million to meet Colorado’s new literacy standard and $13 million for charter school construction.
The proposal also features one-time payments of $100 million for a variety of teacher and program evaluations, $10 million in rewards for districts that finalize student enrollment before the Oct. 1 deadline and $5 million for a website on which the public can track how school districts spend taxpayer dollars.
“This is a critical step in reducing the recession-era budget cuts and delivering to all students in Colorado an education that will prepare them to be successful at college, at work and as citizens,” said Hamner, who also chairs the House Education Committee. “We will continue to work with all stakeholders during the coming weeks and months to take our public school system to a higher level this year and on into the future.”
As for her opponent, Hamner said she is looking forward to debating the issues with Irvine as the race heats up.
For more information about Hamner, visit www.milliehamner.com.
“This (Student Success Act) is a critical step in reducing the recession-era budget cuts and delivering to all students in Colorado an education that will prepare them to be successful at college, at work and as citizens.”
House District 61 Representative