Colorado’s economic growth makes us the envy of other states near and far. Our entrepreneurial spirit has pioneered massive advances in technology, manufacturing, and energy development. But when you take a closer look at our economy, there is a glaring problem: Colorado’s cost of living has far outgrown most people’s incomes.
Take-home pay has barely increased while the costs to rent or buy a house have skyrocketed. Salaries are almost flat at the same time that our state is experiencing unprecedented growth. In Colorado, we share the value that we should succeed together. Front Range economic growth should be coupled with prosperity on the Western Slope, the Eastern Plains, and Southern Colorado.
We are all #COworkers in our fight to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.
The Colorado way of life should be within reach for everyone.
Together we will raise wages for working families and make sure incomes keep pace with the cost of living. And we’ll take advantage of innovative policies to put money back in the pockets of Colorado families and prepare us for the economy of the future.
For instance, providing access to free, full-day preschool will provide savings of more than $11,000 per year for families with young kids. Utilizing free open-source textbooks will save college students more than $1,200 every year, and dual and concurrent enrollment programs that give students the chance to earn college credits, and even a degree, while in high school are shown to improve achievement while saving parents and students thousands of dollars.
In today’s workforce, unions are more relevant and important than ever before in creating a pathway to achieving the American Dream for middle class workers and to sustain an equitable democracy. All workers should have the right to form a union without fear of retaliation. In addition, supporting all families with policies like paid family and medical leave means employees will no longer have to choose between paying rent or caring for a loved one in need. More employee-ownership ensures that when companies do well, it’s not just the executive and shareholders who make money but the workers alongside them.
Altogether, these policies will help us build a Colorado economy where working families can not just get by, but earn a good living. Here is how we will succeed as #COworkers:
Raising Wages and Empowering Workers
- Provide paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for all Coloradans.
- Reduce paperwork and remove barriers to employee ownership of businesses, profit sharing, and stock options, which will help more people enjoy Colorado’s economic success
- Defend PERA, protect its defined benefit status, and ensure that Colorado is keeping its promise to workers of a dignified retirement.
- Protect and expand collective bargaining rights while actively opposing attacks on organized labor like so-called “right to work” laws and paycheck deception.
- Enforce our best-value contracting laws and better utilize project labor agreements.
- Address pay-equity gaps for women and people of color in our state contracting, and support workers who suspect they are being paid unfairly in their job to file a complaint.
- Support apprenticeship training, and ensure the longevity and quality of state projects by hiring the best-trained workers.
- Convene a task force to help small businesses compete with large corporations on a level playing field.
- Streamline the permitting process for housing development, encourage inclusionary zoning laws, invest in bike and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and enact transit-oriented land-use policies.
- Work with counties, municipalities, and the State Land Board to identify opportunities such as vacant lots or rundown properties to incentivize leasing for affordable housing development.
- Allow municipalities to raise the minimum wage in their area.
Giving Coloradans a World-Class Education and Valuing Educators
- Universal, free, full-day preschool through a quality provider for every family
- Full-day kindergarten for every child in Colorado
- Invest in our teachers and raise teacher pay while offering student loan relief and access to affordable housing for educators who choose to teach in underserved areas of the state.
- Reduce the costs of education by improving access to, and use of, open source textbooks in public schools and universities.
- Make dual and concurrent enrollment programs available to 100 percent of Colorado students so that students have a head start on preparing to join an increasingly global and competitive workforce.
- Improve funding for childcare programs for parents who are balancing starting a family with furthering their education to earn new skills.
Future-Proof Our Economy
- Convene a statewide task force to confront the challenges and opportunities of automation, protect workers, invest in new technology, and create jobs.
- Work with vocational schools and trade unions to craft certification programs to increase access to jobs in advanced manufacturing and robotics, and increase technical skills training.
- Improve workforce protections and access to benefits for freelance workers and entrepreneurs.
- Incentivize employers to consider alternative work arrangements that reduce the need to commute and help people utilize their skills no matter where they live.
- Bolster our startup community and small businesses by facilitating pathways to capital and making it easier to start a business throughout Colorado