State Rep. Christine Scanlan: End of session, beginning of results
We worked very hard this legislative session and had some tough choices to make, but we made significant progress on many important issues. We continued to find ways to stand up for you, your family and small businesses, while balancing the state’s budget and making government leaner.
Balanced approach, balanced budget
We took a balanced approach to the budget. We didn’t take an either/or option of cutting expenditures or closing corporate tax exemptions – we did both. We eliminated $3.5 billion from the state budget, passed measures to eliminate waste and fraud, and closed corporate tax loopholes. Our budget balancing measures will allow us to make the most out of the future recovery.
With new laws like the SMART Government Act, we enhanced transparency and provided accountability by ensuring your tax dollars are being used effectively – and exposing when they’re not. We are saving money in the state’s health care budget with the Medicaid Modernization Act, which will combat fraud and cut waste.
Working for families
We helped struggling families put food on their table by expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This improved food stamp program will provide nearly 20,000 additional families with essential food assistance, and will help ease the huge caseload that food banks and the faith community have been bearing.
We helped Colorado consumers keep more money in their pockets. We put reasonable restrictions on payday loan shops, defended our neighborhoods from devalued and abandoned properties caused by foreclosures, made sure insurance policies are written in “plain English,” so Coloradans know exactly what they’re paying for; and created one uniform insurance application to make the tedious process of filling out multiple forms more consumer-friendly.
Our new energy economy is continuing to grow and forge a sustainable future for Colorado. We increased our Renewable Energy Standard by requiring large utilities produce a third of their power from green energy sources, like solar and wind, by the year 2020. With this increased standard, we will create thousands of jobs while increasing our energy independence.
Saving jobs, training for careers
The lynchpin of our economy is small business. We targeted small business growth through innovative new programs like “Work Share,” which helps stressed businesses save money by reducing the hours a group of employees works instead of laying off workers, and allowing workers with reduced hours to apply for some unemployment compensation.
We invested in job creation and training programs in growing sectors. For example, with the Health Care Jobs Act, we’re not just encouraging doctors and nurses to work in under-served rural areas; each new doc generates 23 related jobs in that community. And we can train more desperately needed nurses and Nursing Professors through the Nursing Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
We supported economic development at the grassroots: to get people the training and support they need to get back to work, making it easier to transfer credits from two- to four-year colleges and universities, and by creating a green jobs training program.
My bills, your agenda
It’s important that all the kids of our state enjoy the great beauty as well as the recreational and sporting opportunities that Colorado has to offer. So I sponsored a bill that helps more kids take advantage of Colorado’s majestic outdoor spaces through environmental science education programs. The bill brought many local constituents from Summit, Lake and Eagle counties to the Capitol to testify.
I carried the Teacher and Principal Effectiveness bill, which revamps how teachers and principals are evaluated. It also assures our kids have the best educators possible and ensures a fair evaluation process for teachers and principals. Through the hard work of many stakeholders, we crafted model legislation that is being looked at nationally as we lead education reform.
I also sponsored a bill to allow Colorado Mountain College to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees. This will stimulate our local economies by home-growing our own college grads who may become teachers or business owners in our communities.
Among the many problems the bark beetle infestation has caused in our mountain communities is the issue of what do with all the dead trees that are fuel loading the forests. Colorado needs a viable, competitive timber industry practicing sustainable forestry. That’s why I sponsored a bill that encourages the use of woody biomass, an energy resource that is not only clean but comes from the by-product of timber killed by the bark beetle.
I remain committed to protecting our communities, providing essential services and maintaining Colorado’s high quality of life. And I will continue to act as a good steward to provide a strong future for our children, because their legacy is our responsibility.
Christine Scanlan represents House District 56 in the state Legislature, which includes Summit County.
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