They said we couldn't do it, but we did.

Today, Colorado Democrats and Republicans came together to expand and strengthen our middle class after months of preparation and consultation.

Although the top one percent has watched their income expand, salaries for hard working, middle-class families have been stagnant in many cases. Too many Coloradans are working more hours and living paycheck to paycheck. Our families are working harder just to stay afloat.

That's why together we have developed the Colorado Ready to Work package! This package of bills will help create not only more jobs, but better paying jobs. Jobs that will help expand and strengthen the middle class across Colorado.

Ensuring Coloradans are ready to work is not a partisan issue. It is a Colorado issue. That's why I'm pleased that many of the bills in our package have bipartisan support.

So if you are a recent college grad who is buried under student debt and struggling to find work, a mid-career worker who needs a new set of skills to be competitive in today's job market, or a single mom who wants tools to be able to find a good- paying job, the Colorado Ready to Work package could improve your economic security.

Jobs are a priority we can all support. Iím proud that we can show Congress how we here in Colorado get things done in a bipartisan fashion!

Mobile Learning Labs (Lontine & Hamner/Marble & Donovan)
Brings the community college classroom to the workplace. RV-sized vehicles can set up in a companyís parking lot to deliver training programs to employees where they work. The mobile learning labs reduce employee travel time and scheduling hassles while delivering training thatís tailored to the specific needs of the company. Modeled on a Pueblo CC program.

Enhanced Unemployment Insurance (Esgar & Kraft-Tharp/Merrifield)
Continues a program that allows the long-term unemployed to obtain enhanced unemployment insurance benefits while they participate in an approved skills training program. The program has been shown to be a cost-effective way to help displaced workers gain important skills and move off the unemployment rolls and onto a payroll.

Career Pathways (Melton & Garnett/Woods & Kerr)
Directs the state workforce development council to coordinate with industry to design more career pathways -- a combination of education and training programs, work experiences and counseling -- for critical occupations in growing industries. Based on a manufacturing career pathway thatís already been designed.

P-TECH (Foote & Duran/Woods & Todd)
Creates partnerships with industries to do a combination of internships, mentoring and school courses in information technology and STEM fields. Graduates will come out with a high school diploma and an associateís degree, which they can then use to jump-start a bachelorís degree or take directly into a career.

WORK Act (Pabon & Williams/Cooke)
Ceates a grant program to close an information gap Ė the lack of public awareness of the good jobs that are out there in certain industries, as well as the programs that will help Colorado workers gain the skills needed to get those jobs. Grants will help the outreach, recruiting and training efforts of organizations offering skilled worker training programs.

Career & Technical Education Programs and Concurrent Enrollment (Winter/Marble & Heath)
Allows high schools to provide coursework and award high school credit for students that they can then count toward apprenticeship programs leading to post-secondary certifications and tech careers. Provides scholarships to help pay for some of the most in-demand career and tech programs.

These four bills are introduced and in various stages of the legislative process:

HB15-1170 Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness Coordinator (Kraft-Tharp & Wilson/Hill & Heath)
Creates a statewide coordinator who will work with schools and businesses to help young Coloradans nearing high school graduation decide which post-secondary path is right for them Ė a four-year college, a community college or a career and technical education program. Students will be encouraged to take the next step up the education ladder, but without trying to shoehorn them into a four-year college, which isnít the right answer for every student.

HB15-1227 Income Tax Credit for Employers Who Help with Student Loans (Becker K/Heath)
Creates an income tax credit for employers doing business in Colorado who hire recent Colorado graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines and assist them in repaying their student loans. The credits would apply for employees making up to $60,000.

HB15-1230 Innovative Industries Internships (Lee & Foote/Cooke & Heath)
Creates an internship/apprenticeship program in engineering and R&D-intensive companies. Colorado high school or college students or recent graduates enrolling in the program would gain real-world work experience and occupational skills, and employers would provide training tailored to their real-world needs.

SB15-082 County Workforce Development Programs (Moreno & Lawrence/Marble & Hodge)
Authorizes Coloradoís 64 counties to establish workforce development programs to provide financial assistance to their high school graduates who pursue post-secondary education or training. Counties would be able to offer property tax credits or rebates to local taxpayers who contribute to the fund.

 

Just over a month ago, Colorado House Democrats elected women to the top two posts on our leadership team. Never before have women served as Speaker of the House and Majority Leader in our state's history.

When I decided to run for office five years ago, I didn't expect to become Chair of the Joint Budget Committee nor be elected by my fellow legislators to be the Majority Leader.

I am honored by the trust my colleagues have placed in me and I have a great responsibility to them and to the people of Colorado. I am especially looking forward to working with our Speaker-Designee Dickey Lee Hullinghorst to strengthen Colorado's middle class.

As we put the election behind us, I hope that we can begin the next session with a conversation about what Republicans & Democrats are for, instead of what one party may be against, so together we can pass legislation on behalf of our neighbors, our families and our communities. Our success will not be determined by political polling or pundits, but rather by how we come together to deliver results to ensure Colorado has an economy that works for everyone.

Please join me and the newly elected leadership team the evening of Tuesday, January 6th, for a special reception at La Rumba (see below)! The following day on Wednesday, January 7th, the First Regular Session of the 70th General Assembly will convene at 10am at the Capitol, located at 200 East Colfax, Denver. Please join us! Seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis so come early.

Me & volunteer Jordan Sauers at Denver Rescue Mission

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~Winston Churchill

We recently served meals to the homeless at the Denver Rescue Mission & dropped off supplies to Rosa Linda's 30th Annual Thanksgiving Feast for the Needy! Please consider giving back to our Denver community this holiday season and throughout the year!

 


A PRODUCTIVE SESSION 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

96% of bills that passed had bipartisan support.

LEGISLATIVE HIGHLIGHTS

As the prime sponsor and in collaboration with other legislators, the following bills have been signed, or will be signed, by Governor Hickenlooper:

Affordable Child Care HB1317

This bill will enable more Colorado families to go from welfare to work. In some instances, Colorado parents pay as much as $14,000 per child per year for quality child care. HB 1317 creates tiered reimbursement programs that incentivize and reward successful, high-quality child care programs and ensure that families with lower incomes receive more state dollars to help struggling parents remain in the workforce. The bill also lowers copayments for families with incomes below the federal poverty level and implements policies that support parentsí efforts to find and keep a job. Thanks to the Colorado Children's Campaign, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, and child care providers across the state who weighed in on this policy.

Increased Access to Reasonably Priced Housing HB1017

This bill increases the availability of reasonably priced housing through tax credits for developers and the establishment of a housing investment trust fund and housing development grant fund. The Joint Budget Committee invested an additional $4.2 million towards building or redeveloping affordable housing in Colorado. Thanks to housing advocacy groups, developers, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Housing Finance Authority for your strong support of this legislation.

Promotion of Electric Car Charging Stations Through Grants SB28

Last session, I passed legislation to give consumers a tax credit when they purchase cars that have a positive impact on the environment. This sessionís bill will build more electric car charging stations in public places, continuing my work to promote electric cars.

Colorado Creative Districts HB1093

This bill established the Creative District Community Loan Fund and made an investment of $100,000. The Office of Economic Development will make loans or loan guarantees from the newly created Creative District Community Loan Fund to develop, construct or redevelop commercial real estate, mixed used projects or community facilities for state-certified creative districts like the Santa Fe Art District or the RINO Art District.

Authorize Shooting Range to Be Built in Grand Junction HB1275

This bill authorizes the Parks & Wildlife Commission to purchase property to build a multi-use shooting facility in Grand Junction. As a sixth-generation Coloradan from a family of hunters, I know the importance of continuing to promote outdoor activities that are part of our stateís heritage.

Medical Marijuana Health Effects Grant Program SB155

This bill invests dollars to study the potential therapeutic and medical benefits of marijuana and help physicians better understand the biochemical effects of prescribed marijuana.

Recreational Marijuana Tax Proposal SB215

This bill invests recreational marijuana tax revenues into substance abuse treatment and efforts to reduce substance abuse among adults and teenagers, including an advertising campaign to warn Coloradans about the effects of marijuana. The bill also invests dollars in the development of a financial services network for marijuana businesses.

Click here to see all legislative accomplishments by the Colorado House Democrats

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

As chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, Iím especially proud of this year's budget, which will help every community in Colorado. Whether itís assisting with flood and wildfire recovery, making historic investments in our education system, or increasing economic opportunity and security for all Coloradans, this bill will help move our state forward long into the future.

This yearís budget:

  • Commits $144 million to recovery from the floods and wildfires of 2013
  • Invests $44 million in wildfire prevention, including nearly $20 million for aircraft to assist with early wildfire detection
  • Increases state funding for education by nearly $400 per pupil and implements important reforms
  • Boosts funding to our colleges and universities by $100 million
  • Implements economic development programs to boost key industries, create good-paying jobs and build a strong, sustainable economy
  • Increases funding for workforce development programs by nearly half a million dollars
  • Increases reimbursements for social services providers and gives a lift to Coloradoís hard-working public employees
  • Increases the state reserve by more than $130 million, to 6.5 percent, to prepare for future emergencies and economic downturns
  • Boosts investments in women's health services and family planning. For the first time, provides funding to ensure low-income undocumented women have access to prenatal care
  • Invests in vulnerable populations to provide services for victims of domestic violence and reduce child abuse and homelessness

Click here to see the complete budget narrative

Colorado Budget Invests in Girls and Women to Reach Their Full Potential

By Alvina Vasquez
Communications Director, Strong Colorado

Click here to see Huffington Post article

 


2013 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

A message from Rep. Crisanta Duran about this year's historic legislative session: 

We kicked off this year's legislative session with the promise that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules should be able to have access to economic opportunity and the American dream. It has truly been a historic session. With your support, I worked to: 

  • Balance Colorado's budget by investing in economic development, job creation and protecting our state's most vulnerable - seniors, children and the developmentally disabled - with bipartisan support. The budget also increased Colorado's rainy day fund and paid off loans and debt obligations. 
  • Pass the Colorado Careers Act that will invest almost 4 million dollars into workforce development to give Coloradans tools to succeed and the ability to find stable employment. 
  • Invest 4 million dollars into the Auraria Campus Library Renovation project. 
  • Extend Tax Credits for Electric and Natural Gas Vehicles to encourage access to affordable "green" technologies for all Coloradans. I also passed legislation to remove HOA barriers to electric car vehicle owners by requiring tenant access to an electric outlet or vehicle charging equipment. The bill allows the owner or tenant to be charged by their HOA for the costs associated with the equipment. 
  • Encourage access to Renewable Energy by increasing Colorado's standard and creating stability in the market for companies to invest in solar, wind and other clean energies in the rural areas of our state. Consumers can't be charged more than a 2% increase on their energy bills, which is estimated to be less than $2 per month.  
  • Invest almost 3 million dollars into Diversifying the Economies of Rural Colorado. The Department of Local Affairs will use these dollars to examine the economies of rural Colorado where there is high unemployment and a dependence on a single employer. Passed legislation that will allow Fort Lyon to be used as a homeless treatment center. 
  • Allow the Office of Economic Development to invest in Infrastructure Development for Creative Districts, like the Santa Fe Arts District or the River North Art District RINO. 
  • Collect data through the Secretary of State's Office of minority, women, disabled and veteran owned Colorado businesses in an effort to utilize this information for Economic Business Planning.

    * Develop the Quality Early Childhood Education Grant Program and invest 2 million dollars to increase access to affordable and quality childcare for Colorado families. 

  • Create a Comprehensive Sexuality Education Grant Program for school districts that wish to teach age-appropriate, evidence based and culturally sensitive curriculum. This effort will address Colorado's teenage pregnancy problem by encouraging abstinence but also ensuring that those young adults who choose to engage in sexual activity will know how to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease. 
  • Pass Colorado ASSET to allow undocumented students to receive in-state tuition to attend Colorado colleges and universities. 
  • Support Driver's Licenses for all Coloradans, including undocumented persons, to protect public safety. 
  • Give a Raise to State Employees who have not seen a pay increase for four years. Encourage public safety by passing a bill to examine the staffing levels of Correctional Officers and paying them a fair wage for overtime worked. 

Because of your continued support, I have been able to accomplish these goals. It is truly an honor to serve and I'm proud to bring the values of our state forward.

May 21, 2013

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crisantad@gmail.com