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, coming together across the aisle with colleagues and taking a bipartisan approach to getting things done. I am proud of my success as a legislator — carrying 67 bills this year and serving as chair of the Joint Budget Committee. I led the state in crafting a budget that invests in our Colorado way of life and adheres to our priorities. I am committed to saving people money, investing in public education and student success, providing health care and safety net services for the most vulnerable among us and protecting the beautiful Colorado we call home.
As we wrestle with life during this pandemic and the ensuing economic challenges, my top priority at the Capitol has been working to save people money and make sure every Coloradan has access to living their own Colorado dream. That means making sure each of us finds a good paying job and has access to affordable housing, health care and child care in the communities where we live and work. Last year, I carried legislation to incentivize local affordable housing development and this year, with significant state and federal funding, we are investing more than $428 million in additional affordable housing solutions. In my first year in office, I carried the reinsurance bill which is now saving Coloradans more than 37% on health insurance through the individual marketplace on the Western Slope. I have carried bills investing millions in rural hospitals and strengthening the rural health care workforce. I’ve supported efforts to bring down prescription drug prices, including capping the cost of insulin for diabetics. Over the past two years, we’ve invested more than $100 million in stabilizing child care providers to ensure they keep their doors open supporting working families. In addition, I’ve taken swift action to ensure Coloradans and small businesses are able to save money on their property taxes — helping to save the average homeowner up to $274 dollars in property tax relief.
Strengthening public education has been my greatest policy passion. We must ensure that every child succeeds in life and that starts with a world-class education. I am heading into my third year as chair of the Interim Legislative Committee on School Finance and am proud to say we broke records this year — 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, provide state matching funds for lower wealth communities willing to pass local school funding measures, and dedicated $90 million in grants for regional talent development workforce pipelines.
Finally, climate change is the greatest threat to our future. I have led efforts to invest in forest health, protect water resources and expand wildfire mitigation/suppression/response and watershed recovery. I supported legislative action outlining our climate goals in statute in 2019, and supported legislation reducing harmful industrial emissions, improving air quality and transitioning to clean energy. Colorado’s greatest asset is our magnificent landscapes, 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 that service and earning the confidence of voters this November as the state representative for the newly formed House District 13.
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