A progressive vision

The Bell Policy Center is committed to making Colorado a state of opportunity for all. We seek to reinvigorate the debate on issues affecting the well-being of Coloradans and to promote policies that open gateways to opportunity.

A unique and essential role
The non-profit Bell Policy Center is committed to identifying and promoting policies that help individuals and families access opportunity and move toward self-sufficiency.

The Bell's work rests on the twin pillars of solid, objective research and responsible advocacy. Specifically, we:

  • Work with Coloradans across the political spectrum to identify critical policy issues.
  • Conduct nonpartisan research on issues that impact many Coloradans.
  • Draw on the expertise of a strong staff and a wide network of supporters and consultants.
  • Share the results of our research with policy-makers, community leaders and the people of Colorado to encourage responsible public dialogue and debate.
  • Make policy recommendations and advocate for changes that will increase opportunities for individuals and families


Accomplishments and projects
Conversations with people and groups around the state guide our policy agenda. Our major projects include:

Looking Forward (2007 and 2009)
In November 2005, Colorado voters passed Referendum C, giving the state a five-year "time-out" from the revenue limits established by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR).

The 2007-08 Colorado state budget was the third of five budgets to operate under that time-out, and many Coloradans were starting to ask what should happen next.

We believe the best way forward is to first make sure we have good information so Coloradans can make good decisions. The purpose of Looking Forward, Colorado's fiscal prosopects after Ref C was to provide that information. Looking Forward projected state revenues and expenditures through 2013, a six-year period that includes the last three years of the Referendum C time-out and the first three years of the new Ref C revenue cap.

In 2009, we updated our projections and released a new report, Looking Forward, Colorado's fiscal prospects amid a financial crisis. The new analysis was driven by two major events that developed after our original report.

First, beginning in 2008, Colorado and the nation entered the worst economic downturn in more than 50 years. The new analysis demonstrates clearly that not only were 2007 levels of service as good as it would get, but that 2007 may well become a high point that will stand out more and more starkly as representing the "good old days."

Second, in the 2009 legislative session, lawmakers repealed the 6 percent Arveschoug-Bird General Fund appropriations formula. Our 2007 report had identified this formula as a major factor in how General Fund revenues would be allocated during the study period. Its repeal means that Arveschoug-Bird will not have a significant effect on our projected appropriations during the study period.

Blueprints for Opportunity
In 2006, Colorado voters elected a new governor and many new legislators. In this publication, Bell Policy Center recommends 37 ideas that will improve Colorado as a state of opportunity for all.

Click here for our Blueprint for Opportunity

Visit the Guide to Blueprint for Opportunity to

  • Read the four Blueprint chapter summaries
  • Read the Blueprint recommendations
  • View and download any of the 35 supporting reports that accompanied the Blueprint
  • View and download any of the 38 Blueprint Implementation Memos, which tell state leaders how to turn the Blueprint recommendations into action and positive change for Colorado

The Colorado State of Opportunity Report
The Bell’s flagship publication is a carefully researched report that tracks the gateways to opportunity, explained at right. Bell's policy analysts track indicators within each gateway to identify trends, measure success and spot new challenges.
The Bell Policy Center published State of Opportunity reports in 2002 and 2005.

Colorado: The State of Opportunity 2005 Report

Executive summary (12 pgs, 1 MB in PDF format)
Complete report (102 pages, 4 MB in PDF format)

Links to Opportunity Report chapters

Colorado: The State of Opportunity 2002 Report

Complete report (80 pages, 364 KB)

Links to Opportunity Report chapters

State fiscal policy and the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR)
The Bell’s 2003 report, Ten Years of TABOR, paved the way for statewide discussions about the impact of TABOR on the fiscal crisis Colorado experienced after voters passed the constitutional amendment in 1992. Click here for the Ten Years of Tabor resource page.

The report documented Amendment 1’s stranglehold on services — transportation, education, public health and assistance for seniors and the disabled.

The Bell, along with a growing coalition of Coloradans, supported Referendum C on the 2005 ballot as a good step toward responsible TABOR reform. With the passage of Ref. C, Colorado is now restoring funding to K-12 education, higher education, health care and transportation.

The Bell publishes well-researched reports on access to higher education and closing the achievement gap among K-12 students. Bell also tracks state legislation affecting K-12 and higher education. For more information, visit our Education issues page.

Working poor and self-sufficiency
With major funding from the Ford and Annie E. Casey Foundations, the Bell produced a ground-breaking report, Opportunity Lost: When Hard Work Isn’t Enough for Colorado’s Families, in 2004. In 2010, the Bell published an update, Opportunity Lost: 2010 update.

2004 Supporting data

Bell analysts updated the 2004 report in 2005
Update text (6 pgs, 164 KB)
Update charts (4 pgs, 100 KB)