The recent legislative session was one of the most productive and meaningful in years. We are pleased with the success of the bills we worked on, but the real success story will be told by thousands of Coloradans as they seek greater opportunities for themselves and their families. Here's a representation of some of the session's major accomplishments.
The official end to an extraordinarily productive legislative session came last week, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the final pieces of legislation that landed on his desk.
We didn't want to let the moment pass without mentioning four bills that received little attention but that will have a big impact on students with dreams of college, working families, retail businesses and their employees and our economy.
If Colorado voters this November approve a $1 billion income tax increase to fund schools, they will break a string of defeats for similar measures stretching back decades.
Since the early 1990s, voters have approved only two ballot measures that affected education revenues – and neither of those included a general tax increase. Over the same period, voters defeated six K-12 or higher education funding measures.
On Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Working Families Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 (SB13-001), a measure that will boost the earnings of more than 400,000 low- and moderate-income Colorado families. It makes permanent a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) once certain conditions are met, so the credits will be available to these families each year.
Few things in public policy are as final as a Supreme Court decision. That's why we were disappointed this week when the state Supreme Court ruled that Colorado's system for financing schools does not violate the constitutional promise of a "thorough and uniform" system of public education. We believed strongly enough in the merits of the case that last October we filed a "friend of the court" brief on the side of the plaintiffs, arguing that the current system actually perpetuates achievement gaps in Colorado schools.
Colorado took a small but very important step today that will help more older Coloradans with long-term care needs, allowing them to stay in their homes longer and saving the state money in the process. Gov. John Hickenlooper did that by signing Senate Bill 127, which will improve funding for the state's 16 Area Agencies on Aging.
Colorado's enterprise zone program will be modified to permanently cap the amount of investment tax credit that may be claimed at $750,000 per year, place greater emphasis on job creation and workforce development and provide transparency in assessing the program's effectiveness, thanks to Gov. John Hickenlooper's signing of House Bill 1142 on Wednesday.
The 2013 legislative session made extraordinary progress in expanding opportunities for more Coloradans.
In our January preview of the session, we described how legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle outlined broad goals and emphasized the role of public policy in expanding opportunity. During the session, they delivered. The result is one of the most productive and far-reaching sessions in memory.