Opinion | Bob Rankin: Working to protect western and rural interests
Senate District 8 Republican incumbent
I’m Bob Rankin, your state senator. I represent Northwest Colorado — a vast, beautiful area with a diverse economy and population.
Colorado and the nation have been through a rough period. But now, it’s time to accelerate the comeback to what will be a new normal. Recovery and renewal present challenges but also opportunities.
And Northwest Colorado is already leading the way. Summer tourism was surprisingly strong. Ski slopes will open, and small businesses in resort towns will survive. Our gas and coal will continue to heat the nation even as we plan to transition to renewable energy. Our farmers and ranchers never slowed down. Our spectacular public lands are more popular than ever.
So on that optimistic note, I’ll make some predictions.
The governor’s emergency declaration must and will end, and the Legislature will get back to work with the daunting task of recovering from the crisis.
We will recover Colorado’s spending through a budget that reflects our most important priorities, with education funding for K-12 schools and higher education leading those needs. As the Joint Budget Committee’s senior member, I’ll be very much a part of planning for a multiple-year budget process.
We’ll rebuild the economy with jobs, not taxes, by balancing public health and safety with open businesses. I’ve worked with other legislators to encourage early guidance by our Department of Health and Environment to open ski resorts. The small businesses that depend on winter traffic can survive only if the resorts can open and open safely.
Schools will reopen but may never be the same. Remote, individualized learning under parent involvement will be blended with traditional classroom instruction. School districts are leading the way under local control authority to open with a variety of learning models. The Legislature, the State Board of Education and school districts are working together to capture lessons learned and support teachers as they face these new challenges. I’ll continue as co-chair of the Education Leadership Council to chart a vision and a strategy for the future of Colorado’s education system from early childhood to adult education. I’ll fight for a more equitable funding formula that offers our kids the same opportunities in rural and small districts that students in affluent communities enjoy.
Health care will forever be impacted by telemedicine, transparency and control of cost. I’ll be introducing my Total Cost of Care bill that will address all of our health care methods of payment and delivery. I’ve been a partner in transparency and reinsurance bills that have successfully lowered insurance premium costs as much as 50% for private payers. Now we have to go after the underlying cost of services. And without artificial price caps.
Our recreation and public lands will be even more highly valued than before the crisis. We have a special responsibility as Western Slope residents and public servants to protect our public lands. I don’t support sales or transfers of our public lands. I believe our state park and national land managers, and we as legislators, should work to broaden access to allow all our citizens to enjoy the outdoors that we value so highly.
There’s a new awareness of the role of local and state government due to the actions taken during the pandemic. Citizen involvement and activism are at a high point. It can and should be channeled for good as we rebuild. County and city governments will have a more decisive role than before the crisis.
Western Colorado is outnumbered in the Denver-controlled Legislature, but our voice will be loudly heard as I represent us in the senate and on the Joint Budget Committee. I’ll work closely with the other Western Slope legislators and local governments to ensure that our people, business and public lands enter into an exciting period of renewal and prosperity.
It’s been hard work and sometimes difficult, but it’s been a pleasure to represent western Colorado. My legislative assignments have given me the experience and the committee positions to continue to make a difference. I’ve demonstrated that impact on over 150 bills that I’ve sponsored. I will ensure that the 600-plus bills and over 1,000 budget items every year are consistent with western and rural interests.
My work is not complete.
I have unfinished business and I ask for your vote.
Sen. Bob Rankin is the Republican incumbent for Colorado Senate District 8.
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