Standing with state Senate President Brandon Shaffer and House Speaker Terrance Carroll, Gov. Bill Ritter said today he intends to devote his final legislative session to creating good jobs for Coloradans, continuing Colorado’s economic recovery and keeping the state budget balanced.
“Over the next four months, our laser-like focus will be on economic recovery, job creation and responsibly managing the state’s finances,” Gov. Ritter said. “We’ll continue to work tirelessly on behalf of Colorado’s families and small businesses as we lead Colorado forward.
“Our strategies are working,” Gov. Ritter said. ” Colorado’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. We added new jobs to the economy in October and November, and we have one of the best economic outlooks in the nation. This legislative session, we are committed to keeping Colorado on the road to recovery and maintaining Colorado as a national leader on issues such as energy, economic development, education and healthcare.”
Legislative priorities for the 2010 session include:
New Energy Economy
· Increasing Colorado’s 20 percent by 2020 Renewable Energy Standard to 30 percent by 2020. Gov. Ritter and lawmakers doubled the state’s voter-approved RES in 2007. The 20-by-20 goal is within reach and it’s time to set our goals higher and continue creating tens of thousands of new jobs, increasing Colorado’s energy security and protecting our environment.
· Making the Colorado State Park system the first in the country to use zero net energy by 2020. As Colorado continues to expand its New Energy Economy, this is an opportunity to increase the use of renewables and efficiency measures in our state parks while also saving money and creating jobs.
· Creating new markets and increasing demand for Colorado natural gas while maintaining Colorado’s balanced approach to responsible drilling and environmental protection.
Job Creation & Training
· Creating new green-job certificates and green-job training programs. As Colorado’s New Energy Economy continues to expand, we need to ensure that Colorado is supplying new energy companies with the best educated and skilled workforce in the country.
· Enacting new programs such as Health Care Jobs for Colorado, a Nurse Loan Repayment Program and Job Training Accounts (Dec. 10 news release).
· Strengthening Colorado’s creative industries through three pieces of legislation that will make it easier for commercial and videogame producers to access state incentive funds, broaden the state’s Arts in Public Places law, and establish a Creative Industries Division within the Office of Economic Development (Jan. 5 news release).
· Keeping the state budget balanced by taking a balanced approach that: spreads the burden and minimizes pain; asks state agencies, government employees, private businesses and public schools to share in the solutions; and protects the safety net, public safety and programs that promote job growth. Gov. Ritter will be submitting a new round of budget-cutting proposals to the legislature for FY09-10 in late January and for FY10-11 in mid-February.
· Saving money and achieving greater efficiencies in the state’s healthcare budget through a Medicaid Modernization Act that will fight fraud, as well as bills to standardize insurance claims and explanations of benefits, and require insurance companies to write policies in plain language.
· Shoring up the state’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) pension fund, which is facing almost $30 billion in unfunded liabilities.
· Modernizing teacher and student assessments through legislation that will lead to the replacement of the CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) test in the next year or two, continuing the reforms begun under the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (Senate Bill 08-212).
· Strengthening public safety through legislation that will regulate and rein in abuses in Colorado’s voter-approved medical marijuana program, toughen up penalties for repeat drunk-driving offenses, and improve the state’s child-protection system.