EDITORIAL: The election is over. Colorado’s problems remain. Get on it.

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Aurora police officials say three people were injured outside of Hinkley High School in Aurora Nov. 19, 2021. It was the second shooting at or near a high school in five days. Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

There’s no time for partisan praise nor penance in Colorado.

The election is over, and Republican candidates were decimated in elections across the state.

It wasn’t surprising in any way.

GOP hopefuls across the spectrum focused on stoking fears about crime, the economy and assorted conspiracy theories without offering any real or practical solutions.

The voting public wasn’t fooled by candidates promising a safer state by re-enacting so-called “tough on crime” laws and policies. Neighboring states controlled by Republicans have the same crime, economy and dismal education problems we have in Colorado.

The challenge for Colorado’s Democratic leaders now is to work with remaining Republicans to make good on promises to find working solutions, not soundbites, to the plethora of problems facing the state.

They must do this with the solid understanding that congressional gridlock will be as bad as it has been for more than a decade, or even worse.

It’s 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 problems being dumped onto states because partisan pout-fests clog the Congress.

Gov. Jared Polis and recent past legislatures have been successful in making inroads against some of the more serious issues facing the state, but there is much work to do.

Polis has been successful in leading the state into full-day, free kindergarten and providing some free preschool options to all families. Here is where cooperation with the federal Head Start program and legislation matching employee day-care and preschool benefits could leverage that into state programs making meaningful differences to every family, and giving every child a true head start in their education.

The health care system in Colorado, like those across the nation, is sick and corrupt, especially in rural Colorado. While state lawmakers 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 is nowhere close to being affordable or adequate.

Massive mistakes were made when the 2010 Affordable Care Act was created by Congress. The legislation failed to regulate the industry, allowing it to greedily hike hidden prices and hide even greater costs to consumers with massive co-pays and out-of-pocket perks created for insurance companies. And Congress failed to create meaningful antitrust measures, and a so-called “public option,” to act as a real, market force to counter generations of monopoly and industry collusion.

The result is a medical system that offers “free” annual check-ups, can’t cancel coverage for cancer patients — but costs hundreds of times what better coverage and care is available all over the Western world.

While Colorado’s own “public option” is coming, legislators must do more to intervene in a system that clearly has no limits in how much it can charge for health care, no matter how little the system actually provides.

Likewise, it’s welcome news that Polis in his 2023 budget proposal is asking lawmakers for more money for state colleges in an effort to stem seemingly endless tuition hikes.

It’s not enough, however, to hope to keep “most” of expected tuition hikes under check. 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 charge students what colleges deem they need, the state must set a fair price for state school tuition and require colleges and state lawmakers to determine how they will meet that goal. Tuition alone for most four-year state colleges is approaching $7,000 a year. Living expenses push past $12,000 a year easily. University of Colorado at Boulder tuition is about $11,000 a year. 

Few things provide greater equity among everyone in Colorado than does education. Making this critical option available to all state residents is imperative.

Also, crime and opioid drug addiction are problems Polis and state lawmakers can work to provide solutions, not just rhetoric.

Clearly, ineffective “tough on crime” notions, ditched after the 1980s, and currently touted by many Republicans, are useless. States that hand out harsh sentences, little parole and actually encourage the public to carry handguns have the same theft, drug and gun violence problems as do Aurora and much of Colorado.

What does work to actually prevent crime, not just prosecute it, are education, community involvement, engaged schools and valid diversion programs.

Providing police with resources to identify stolen vehicles, and technology for cars to be clearly tagged and labeled as stolen, won’t just re-shuffle a dysfunctional criminal justice program in hopes of a different outcome.

Similarly, if the federal government is unable to provide resources to stem the spread of illicit and illegal opioids, state, regional and even neighboring state officials must work to interrupt the source of these drugs. Colorado must improve ways to provide education and treatment to address the real impact of this addiction scourge, being realistic that addicts can’t just choose to quit using and then make it happen.

While all the misinformation, delusion and distraction of the election are gone for now, the real problems in Colorado aren’t.

It’s time for those elected to work together to provide real solutions now. 

 

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Sam Stott
Sam Stott
2 months ago

Thanks, Sentinel. We need problem solving, not whining.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
2 months ago

Few things provide greater equity among everyone in Colorado than does education. Making this critical option available to all state residents is imperative.

Trying to cram as many people as possible through college and treating education as a fetish is what got us here to begin with. Even after all that propagandizing for decades that anyone who doesn’t get a degree will never be successful, the majority of the workforce still doesn’t have at least a Bachelor’s, college graduates are demanding a debt jubilee despite said degree supposedly providing them with the financial leg up to pay those debts, and 40-70% of incoming freshmen are so ill-prepared for even the 13th-16th grade level of instruction at undergrad that they have to take remedial courses just to get to baseline.

Clearly, ineffective “tough on crime” notions, ditched after the 1980s, and currently touted by many Republicans, are useless.

LOL, what? Crime enforcement INCREASED after the 1980s, not decreased, and the reason for that was the growing spike in crime through the early 1990s. And lo and behold, crime rates dropped after they started throwing people in jail.

Don Black
Don Black
2 months ago

I find it humorous that the author thinks that the legislature will come up with solutions. The legislature has helped further drug use through horrendous liberalization of drugs. The legislature passed the “Police Reform Bill” that drove thousands of officers out of policing and continues to do so. No one, including attorneys, can tell the police what the law means by its incredibly vague language. It forces officers to report other officers for possible excessive force even when it wasn’t excessive. It makes some normal law enforcement functions illegal like pushing an unruly crowd or touching someone to avoid a dangerous situation in a domestic dispute. The legislature hasn’t looked back and continues to brag about how progressive it is. Police instructors are giving up because they can’t tell what they can teach officers that won’t be deemed excessive under the new law. Police academies are seeing very few new applicants. The new officers are being pushed onto the streets to replace the thousands of experienced officers who have left. The police are so short that you can’t count on having anyone come even when your home has been shot up. When you call 911, you get a recording. Yet, the legislature won’t even look at the devastation they have caused by their inept bill. Good luck with the legislature. I realize that the author has an idealistic approach to everything, but crime dropped when we got tough on it. There are bad people out there. Crime doesn’t just exist because of a lack of opportunity.