Opinion | Julie McCluskie: Education, environment and affordability are my focus
Occupation: Current state representative for House District 61.
Years in Summit County: 21 years
Family: Husband Jamie, children Ian and Cait.
Civic involvement: Summit Foundation board member; previous service includes board member for Advocates for Victims of Assault, advisory board member for Building Hope Summit County, key leader on Communities that Care, past president and volunteer of Summit Middle School PTSA
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the hardworking people and families in Colorado’s High Country as the state representative for House District 61, and I’m excited to announce my bid for another term in the legislature. Public service in Colorado is something special — it means listening to the voices of neighbors and community members and working with Democrats and Republicans, alike, to get things done. I am committed to supporting working people and families by focusing on the affordability of housing, health care, and childcare; investing in public education and student success; and protecting the beautiful lands of Colorado we call home.
As we wrestle with the impacts of the pandemic, economic recovery and the challenges of rising national inflation, my top priority at the Capitol has been saving people money and keeping our mountain communities affordable. That means working to ensure each of us has access to affordable housing, health care and child care in the communities where we live and work. In 2021, I carried legislation to incentivize local affordable housing developments by providing grants to help reduce red tape. This year, with significant state and federal funding, we invested more than $428 million in additional affordable housing solutions, including nearly $90 million for rural and rural resort communities.
Over the past two years, we’ve invested more than $100 million in stabilizing child care providers to ensure they keep their doors open to support working families. In addition, I’ve taken swift action to ensure Coloradans and small businesses are able to save money on their property taxes, including helping to save the average homeowner up to $274 dollars in property tax relief.
In my first year in office, I carried the Reinsurance bill, which is now saving Coloradans roughly 36% on health insurance premiums through the individual marketplace on the Western Slope. Since then, I’ve helped lead the way on investments in rural hospitals and carried legislation which provides tax incentives for the rural health care workforce. I’ve supported efforts to bring down prescription drug prices, including capping the cost of insulin for diabetics.
Strengthening public education has been my greatest policy passion. We must ensure that every child succeeds in life — which starts with a world-class education. I serve as the chair of the Interim Legislative Committee on School Finance and am proud to say we broke records this year by investing more than $80 million in Special Education services and redefining how we identify and support at-risk students. I led the state budgeting process to invest $250 million more dollars in our public schools and bring down the budget stabilization factor to an all-time low. I carried bills that ensure all Colorado students have access to in-state college tuition and launched $90 million in grants for regional talent and workforce development.
But ensuring affordability in the high country will mean little if we don’t tackle the greatest threat to our future: climate change. I have led efforts to invest in forest health, protect water resources and expand wildfire mitigation and watershed recovery. I supported legislative action outlining our climate goals in 2019 and supported legislation reducing harmful industrial emissions, improving air quality and transitioning to clean energy. Colorado’s greatest assets are its magnificent environment, thriving outdoor recreation and tourism economies. Taking action against climate change is about protecting the Colorado we love and ensuring a strong economic future for our people.
Serving the people of Colorado’s High Country these past four years has been the greatest privilege of my life. I look forward to continuing this service and earning the confidence of voters this November as the state representative for the newly formed House District 13.
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