I have served as a part of Colorado’s leadership team for over 10 years, both as your State Treasurer and the CFO & Deputy Mayor of Denver. I am proud of the progress our state has made recovering from the Great Recession to become the top economy in the country. We are a hub for innovation, collaboration and advanced science and manufacturing. Colorado is building a modern knowledge economy and our future prosperity and job growth will depend on education, research and the exchange of ideas and development of talent. But not everyone in Colorado is benefiting. I am running for governor to build on the great progress we are making and to ensure our progress reaches everyone.
I am the only statewide elected official who has called for permanent TABOR reform since the beginning of my career and helped lead two successful statewide ballot measures that avoided deep cuts in education that TABOR otherwise would have required (Amendment 23 in 2000 and Referendum C in 2005). The spending caps in TABOR have forced Colorado to cut our investment in schools for decades, and prevented our state from modernizing our infrastructure to keep up with growth.
Colorado has one of the strongest economies in the country. However, TABOR is outdated and has locked us into fiscal and economic policy that prevents our state from meeting the demands of a growing economy. We can maintain protections for taxpayers, and have responsible fiscal policy for our state by allowing tax revenue to keep up with Colorado’s economic growth.
Paid Family Leave
Eighty-eight percent of Coloradans do not have paid leave to care for a seriously ill relative, welcome a new baby to their family, or recover from a personal illness. Forty-three percent of Coloradans do not have any paid sick at all.The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not offer paid family leave. With Republicans in Washington still unwilling to fund the Child Health Insurance Program, it is clear that states will have to lead to improve working conditions for families. As governor, I will work to create a paid family leave program so that all Coloradans have the ability to care for a loved one and welcome a new child to the family. During my time as CFO and Deputy Mayor of Denver I pushed a proposal to provide paid leave for city employees. As governor, I will support legislation that creates a family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage-replacement benefits for people who need to care for a new child, care for a sick family member, or recover from an illness themselves.
In Colorado, women are paid 81 cents for every dollar men earn. The wage gap is even larger for women of color. Black women are paid 64 cents, Latinas are paid 54 cents, and Asian women are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to white men. This inequity is found all across the state and has been growing wider for women of color. It is unacceptable. As the CFO of Denver, I conducted a review of the staff who reported to me to ensure that we were paying people fairly for their work. When I found inequalities, I adjusted salaries to be equal. As governor, I plan to do the same. I will begin my term by conducting a review of equal pay conditions at the state and make adjustments as necessary.
In addition to advocating for family friendly legislation like paid family leave, I will support legislation addressing the pay equity gap. Colorado should:
- Reinstitute something similar to the Colorado Pay Equity Commission to study the problem and support employers and employees in understanding the pay equity gap.
- Ensure that all state contractors are in compliance with equal pay standards.
- Ensure that women are not discriminated against in the job application process by preventing employers from seeking salary history information unless the employer had provided a salary range for the open position. This prevents discriminatory payments from following a women throughout her career.
Putting Colorado Consumers First
We’re proud of Colorado. Together we have built the number one ranked economy in the country. But far too many people in our state are not benefiting from our success. While many of Colorado’s businesses play by the rules, there are others that exploit people to make a profit. Currently, Colorado has some of the weakest consumer protection laws in the country. We need to put Colorado’s consumers first, especially as the Trump administration and DC Republicans rescind consumer protection at the federal level.
I will create an agency level Office of Consumer Protection. This office will coordinate across government agencies to ensure Colorado’s consumers are protected from fraud and predatory practices. This office will help us better understand how consumers are being taken advantage of, enforce the laws we do have, and create better policies and laws to protect Colorado consumers.
Local Preemption of Minimum Wage
Colorado voters overwhelmingly took a huge step forward with the passage of Amendment 70 which will raise the minimum wage to $12 and hour by 2020. However, we know that cost of living varies dramatically in different parts of the state. Local communities should be allowed to vote to raise the minimum wage in their towns and cities. As governor, I will push for legislation that overturns the prohibition of local governments enacting minimum wage laws. A majority of minimum wage workers in Colorado are women. This is an issue of local control and economic justice. We must allow Colorado voters and communities the freedom to raise their minimum wage.
I stand with working families and believe that unions play a critical role in building and protecting the middle class in America. Unions help hardworking people access good paying jobs, health care benefits and have workplace protections. These values make our economy stronger. This is especially important as we are witnessing the largest income gap in our country’s history. When unions are strong, entire communities enjoy better wages and greater social and economic mobility. I believe in collective bargaining, and as governor, I will never let right-to-work laws take hold in our state. Employees, unions and employers all stand to benefit from working together, and workers deserve a seat at the negotiating table.
Infrastructure – Plan, Prepare and Build for the Future
Colorado has always been a forward-looking and innovative place. But deteriorating roads, inadequate transit systems, and lack of broadband hold our state back, costing us time and money, and leaving many of our communities behind. We can build a more equitable and prosperous Colorado by modernizing our infrastructure. Our growing population is creating an urgency to meet this challenge, but also an opportunity to think big. I am ready to act now to improve Colorado’s infrastructure.
I have the experience to protect what we love about Colorado — and a proven track record of success. As Colorado State Treasurer and as the CFO for the City of Denver, I financed hundreds of projects around our state including road and bridge repairs, transit oriented development, community recreation centers, cultural venues and schools. It’s time for us to modernize our state’s transportation and broadband systems to expand prosperity in our state and ensure our progress reaches everyone.
My experience as State Treasurer and CFO of Denver makes me uniquely qualified to provide the leadership needed to keep the Public Employee’s Retirement Association of Colorado on sound financial footing. Over 10% of Colorado’s population rely on PERA instead of Social Security, and as with Social Security, a pension is a promise. It is essential we protect the retirement savings of so many Coloradans. Especially when those retirement saving equate to $3.8 Billion annually to the 98,332 Colorado residents helping to sustain over 32,807 jobs and $6.1 billion in economic output across Colorado. While I was State Treasurer, I helped lead efforts to strengthen PERA by improving the status of PERA by over $9 billion — the largest improvement in its history. As Governor, I will continue to provide this leadership to ensure we maintain our commitment to public employees and keep our state on sound financial footing.