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“Coloradans deserve an economy that works for everyone, not just special interests and top executives.”
– Jared Polis, Democrat for Governor
Every election cycle, we hear from politicians promising to “strengthen our economy,” but often all they offer are vague plans and platitudes. I’m running for Governor of Colorado to turn bold ideas into real results. I know Colorado can lead the way in creating an economy that works for everybody, not just those at the top, and I have a plan to do it. I support allowing cities and counties to raise the minimum wage, providing paid family medical leave, and ensuring equal pay for equal work, and we can do even more to address rising income inequality and ensure that workers share in the value they help create.
- Colorado can be first-in-the-nation for companies that share their profits and success with their workers. Income inequality is worse than it was in the “Gilded Age,” and ensuring workers see the results of our state’s economic success is an important step in solving the problem.
- More employees should have access to stock options, profit sharing, and company ownership. The companies I started shared ownership with employees, and I want to make it easier and reduce red-tape for businesses across Colorado to do the same. Colorado companies like Leever’s Supermarkets, New Belgium Brewery, and Namaste Solar are great examples of how companies of all sizes can adopt this practice.
- Colorado should support Employee Ownership Business Centers that provide expertise and mentoring to foster the retention of good employees and encourage better performance from workers while leading to better pay and benefits.
Adapting to a Changing Economy
In Colorado, we know that work isn’t just about the paycheck — it’s also about dignity and having pride in how we support our families. Though many of our communities are thriving in parts of our state, too many families and communities are being left behind.
- We will help rural and coal communities find meaningful work in their field retrain for a new career if they choose, and become entrepreneurs by establishing Workforce Development Commissions across the state.
- Coal workers deserve the healthcare and retirement benefits they were promised and we will fight for miners to receive the healthcare and retirement benefits they are owed.
- We will give shut-down factories and mines a new mission and create jobs by bringing local governments and business together to bring new industries to rural Colorado. Some of the highest-skilled and hardest-working men and women in our workforce come from coal country. We will revitalize rural communities by bringing jobs in manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, and renewable energy development to rural Colorado in a way that takes advantage of the skills our workers already have.
- We’ll create a blue-ribbon commission of business leaders, Labor leaders, and citizens to work with the state’s top economists and researchers to put Colorado in the best position to confront the challenge of automation.
Colorado will hold irresponsible corporations accountable when they try to take advantage of our laws and our workers. Too many special interests game the system by seeking exemptions to paying their taxes, resulting in millions of dollars being cut from our classrooms and local economies, and often pay poverty-level wages that force Coloradans to rely on public assistance. We need bold ideas that change our economy from the bottom up to be pro-worker, reward responsible corporations, and give every Coloradan the opportunity to earn a good life.
- Corporations filing their taxes in Colorado shouldn’t be able to hold their earnings in off-shore tax havens. If we ended this practice, it’s estimated that we could bring $70 million in revenue to Colorado’s infrastructure, classrooms, and neighborhoods.
- Making Colorado first-in-the-nation for Public Benefit Corporations that measure their impact on our economy, community, and our environment, and then make investments in keeping Colorado the best place to live.
A Dignified Retirement
Every Coloradan deserves the healthy, dignified retirement they’ve earned through a lifetime of hard work.
- We’ll help Coloradans without employer-supported retirement programs invest in their future by creating a retirement savings plan for workers to enter into. In 2016, The Bell Policy Center found that 45 percent of workers in Colorado lack a retirement savings plan at work. Colorado can help people plan for a dignified retirement by providing them a portable savings account to make it easier to save for the future.
- Over 500,000 Coloradans rely on PERA benefits they earned over a lifetime of service to the public. In fact, $3.8 billion in benefits were paid to retirees in Colorado alone. I believe that we must preserve PERA as a defined-benefit pension system, and would do everything in my power to honor the committments we have made to workers. Any changes made to PERA need to be as fair as possible to all involved – retirees, current employees, and employers.
Rural High-Speed Internet
Access to high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, and it’s not just a tool to stream our favorite TV shows. Lack of internet access in our rural areas means that schools aren’t able to give students a fair opportunity to prepare for college, or the workforce. Entrepreneurs are being told to live elsewhere to pursue their dreams, and medical patients are being forced to travel to far-away hospitals instead of utilizing telemedicine.
- Our Broadband Deployment Fund could be funding internet projects across the state, but the law surrounding it is vague and murky, resulting in slow-moving investments in building out high-speed internet. We will speed that investment by changing the law to move resources faster.
- We’ll give rural towns and citizens the freedom to plan for and invest in broadband by removing the antiquated requirement to conduct costly and time-intensive elections to do so.
- Colorado will partner with local governments to create strategic regional broadband plans and support partnerships by encouraging state agencies to collaborate in building reliable internet across the state using existing resources.
- I will nominate Public Utility Commission members that support building out rural broadband and side with consumers over well-funded special interests, and will encourage CDOT to coordinate with local governments in using existing fiber lines and resources to close service gaps.