Jthere is no time for partisan praise or penance in Colorado.
The election is over and Republican candidates have been decimated in statewide elections.
It was in no way surprising.
GOP hopefuls from all walks of life have focused on fears over crime, the economy, and various conspiracy theories without offering any real or practical solutions.
The voting public was not fooled by candidates promising a safer state by recreating supposedly “tough on crime” laws and policies. Neighboring Republican-controlled states have the same dismal crime, economic, and education problems that we have in Colorado.
The challenge for Colorado’s Democratic leadership now is to work with Remainer Republicans to deliver on their promises to find working solutions, not sound bites, to the plethora of problems facing the state.
They must do so with the firm understanding that the impasse in Congress will be as bad as it has been for over a decade, or worse.
This is bad news for all Americans, including those in Colorado. Critical issues such as immigration, health care, opioid overdoses, women’s health rights, inflation and the pandemic are federal issues that are thrown onto the states because partisan parties obstruct the Congress.
Governor Jared Polis and recent past legislatures have managed to make inroads against some of the most serious issues facing the state, but there is still much work to be done.
Polis was successful in steering the state toward free full-time kindergarten and providing free preschool options to all families. This is where cooperation with the federal Head Start program and corresponding legislation for employee child care and preschool benefits could leverage this into state programs making meaningful differences for every family and giving every child a real head start in his education.
Colorado’s healthcare system, like those across the country, is sick and corrupt, especially in rural Colorado. While state legislators and Polis have successfully helped people without Medicaid, Medicare, or employer-provided benefits find better options on the state health insurance exchange, health care in Colorado are far from affordable or adequate.
Massive mistakes were made when the Affordable Care Act of 2010 was created by Congress. The legislation has failed to regulate the industry, allowing it to greedily raise hidden prices and hide even higher costs for consumers with massive co-payments and refundable benefits created for insurance companies . And Congress has failed to create meaningful antitrust measures, or a so-called “public option,” to act as a true market force to counter generations of monopoly and industry collusion.
The result is a medical system that offers “free” annual exams, cannot void coverage for cancer patients – but costs hundreds of times the best coverage and care available in the western world.
As Colorado’s own “public option” arrives, lawmakers must do more to intervene in a system that clearly has no limits on how much it can charge for health care, no matter how little the system actually provides.
Likewise, it’s good news that Polis, in its 2023 budget proposal, is asking lawmakers for more money for state colleges in an effort to stem seemingly endless tuition hikes.
However, it is not enough to hope to contain “most” of the planned tuition fee increases. State lawmakers should convene a special committee to find ways to force colleges to throw unaffordable expenses overboard and restore affordable higher education to the state.
Rather than charging students what colleges believe they need, the state must set a fair price for public school tuition and require colleges and state legislators to determine how they will achieve this goal. . Tuition for most four-year state colleges approaches $7,000 per year. Living expenses easily exceed $12,000 per year. Tuition at the University of Colorado Boulder is around $11,000 per year.
Few things provide greater equity among all in Colorado than education. It is imperative to make this essential option available to all residents of the state.
Additionally, crime and opioid addiction are issues. Polis and state legislators can work to provide solutions, not just rhetoric.
Clearly, the ineffective notions of “tough on crime,” abandoned after the 1980s and currently touted by many Republicans, are unnecessary. States that impose harsh sentences, little parole, and encourage the public to carry handguns have the same problems with theft, drugs, and gun violence as Aurora and much of Colorado.
What really works to prevent crime, not just prosecute it, is education, community involvement, engaged schools and valid diversion programs.
Providing police with resources to identify stolen vehicles and technology to have cars clearly tagged and labeled as stolen will not just overhaul a dysfunctional criminal justice program in hopes of a different outcome.
Likewise, if the federal government is unable to provide resources to stem the spread of illicit and illegal opioids, officials in states, regions, and even neighboring states must work to interrupt the source of these drugs. Colorado needs to improve ways to provide education and treatment to address the real impact of this scourge of addiction, realizing that addicts cannot simply choose to stop using and then make it happen.
While all the misinformation, illusion, and distraction from the election are gone for now, Colorado’s real problems are not.
It is time for elected officials to mobilize to provide real solutions now.
Sentinel Colorado Editorial Board
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