I am the House’s most active member on measures to spur the state’s economy and connect Coloradans to good jobs. During the 2014 session, I sponsored legislation to incentivize job training in Colorado’s high-tech sector and to increase the amount of money businesses based in Colorado can raise in a stock offering. In 2015 I sponsored Colorado Crowdfunding (HB15-1246) to enable Colorado entrepreneurs to sell stock on the internet in Colorado to raise capital, hire employees or purchase equipment. The bill permits raised up to $1 million, $2 million with audited financial statements, and was implemented this summer.
This year I sponsored HB18-1343 to help veterans transition from military service to civilian careers through apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities for them and their family members. This follows a successful job training bill, Innovative Industries Workforce Development (HB15-1230), that provided training funds to small businesses.
Colorado’s recovery from the great recession of 2007 -2010 has been truly extraordinary. During that time of high unemployment and falling housing values, triggered in part by irresponsible banking and lending practices, many Coloradans struggled with economic uncertainty. Since that time, Colorado has experienced a significant economic turnaround. For the past few years, we have been recognized as leading the nation in the recovery. Our unemployment rate locally and statewide are at historic lows and markets have stabilized.
In the 2013 session, I sponsored three key economic development measures: the Keep Jobs in Colorado Act, which gives preferences in state contracts to bidders using Colorado workers and Colorado products; the Economic Gardening bill, creating a pilot program to provide training and advice to mid-size Colorado businesses that can demonstrate significant growth potential; and the public benefit corporations bill to empower corporations to engage in activities that have a positive impact on society or the environment rather than only profit maximization.
I also worked for two major multistate corporations — a meatpacker in Ohio and the Holly Sugar Corporation, a NYSE-listed company headquartered in Colorado Springs. Ithen spent five years with the law firm of Hill Corrigan Morgan and Krall before setting up my own law practice, where I focused on helping small businesses organize, grow and prosper as well as representing indigent criminal defendants.
I want Colorado businesses to grow sustainably. My legislative goal is to work for an economy that puts people to work in good paying jobs. Our ability to provide public services is directly tied to a vibrant economy with abundant, well paying jobs. That’s why I sponsor pro-business bills — to keep jobs in Colorado and ensure that we are investing in our workforce and our small-businesses. I am committed to economic recovery and job creation.
Small businesses create 70% of all new jobs, so we must have an economic environment that encourages their prosperity. I am skeptical of legislation that imposes additional costs or burdens on business – our low personal, corporate, property and capital gain tax rates and low utility costs are appealing to businesses. I support efforts to preserve and promote our low tax, business friendly environment. I am also a major proponent of “Economic Gardening” measures, which help Colorado companies to grow locally, create new jobs, and hire more Colorado workers instead of simply moving jobs around from state to state as companies come and go.
Removing Barriers to Economic Recovery
Over the last couple of years, businessmen and businesswomen have been telling me that the business personal property tax, the Gallagher Amendment, and The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) are major impediments to job creation and economic growth. Colorado’s business personal property tax is one of the highest in the country. The Gallagher Amendment, which sets the ratio of assessed valuation of residential property to non-residential property, has resulted in a non-residential property assessment of 29%, which as almost three times that paid on residential property. TABOR’s “ratchet effect” makes it difficult for governments to restore services and can slow or prevent economic recovery. We should begin a statewide conversation about how to fix the Gallagher Amendment, the business personal property tax, and TABOR. For the long-term improvement of Colorado’s economy, we need tax provisions that are more favorable to commercial property, capital equipment, and variable economic cycles. Since constitutional action is required, we need to start the conversation among the voters.
Encouraging National Efforts to Fix the Economy
The anemic economy is a direct result of outsourcing (moving jobs overseas), continuing trade deficits (importing more products than we are exporting), unfair trade practices, currency manipulation by foreign governments and an energy policy dependent on fossil fuels and imported oil. In 2010, I worked with a bipartisan group of local businessmen, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, to encourage congressional leaders to address these issues. With near unanimous approval, the State Legislature adopted our resolution, HR10-1013, which calls for federal policies that reduce the trade deficit and remedy unfair trade practices. I will continue my bipartisan efforts in the legislature to create a future of prosperity and opportunity in Colorado for our children and grandchildren
To encourage and enable innovation and entrepreneurship I support local efforts, such as the EDC’s Operation 6035 Plan; to attract new businesses and nurture new innovative ones by helping them access resources, capital, and know-how to grow their businesses. We must also facilitate access to information and provide an “intellectual infrastructure” where courses and collaborations are readily available and connections to trade associations, think tanks and academic institutions are easily accessed. Expanded Internet access and broadband are one way to improve this access.
To develop a Statewide Economic Development Plan we need an effective statewide economic development plan that leverages existing community assets and supplements local efforts by selectively using incentives, such as tax credits, rebates, exemptions, abatements, expanded enterprise zones and job training assistance. Experiences in other states and communities have proven the effectiveness of “economic gardening”, a strategy that focuses on supporting high-growth, and high-potential local small businesses to generate a large number of new sustainable jobs. The primary role of state government in supporting these businesses is to cultivate a business environment responsive to the growing needs of this rapidly growing business sector. Linking local homegrown businesses to resources, technology, databases, training programs, educational institutions, and expertise has proven effective in helping them to grow. In 2013, I passed a statewide economic gardening strategy to nurture Colorado companies and help kick-start Colorado’s economy.