Gov. Polis: Colorado strong after year of pandemic, disaster

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference on the west steps of the state Capitol about legislative plans for the upcoming session Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Denver. Leaders are aiming to expand access to health care as well as reduce costs, make the state more affordable by reducing child care and housing costs, improving the education system and taking steps to insure safe communities. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER | Gov. Jared Polis sought to rally a state besieged by a year of natural disasters, a mass shooting and the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, declaring in his annual state of the state address that Colorado will meet those challenges and others compounded by the increasing cost of living and spreading concerns about crime.

The Democratic governor told lawmakers his administration is seeking to make record investments in K-12 education — a longtime Polis priority — tackle climate change, curb the costs of doing business and bolster the health care system to address mental health challenges and the strain on health care workers and systems posed by the pandemic.

On crime, Polis advocated investment in police recruitment and retention and hailed police and other first responders after a year that saw a Boulder supermarket mass shooting, the killing of an Arvada police officer trying to avoid another mass incident and a recent rampage by a gunman who killed several people in Denver and Lakewood.

Polis pledged to make it free to start a small business in Colorado, expedite health and long-term care professional licensing, and continue longstanding efforts to limit the costs of and increase access to health care. He also pledged a record investment in the state’s chronically underfunded public schools.

“If it isn’t clear, saving Coloradans money and keeping our state affordable is my top priority during this legislative session,” he said. “The state of our state, just like the people of Colorado, is strong, it is steadfast, and in spite of everything, we are boldly moving forward.”

Polis began his address by calling for a moment of silence for those who lost their lives to the coronavirus, to violence such as the supermarket shooting and to disasters such as the December Boulder County wildfire.

“While this pandemic has made even the most mundane activities risky, we have not endured the virus alone,” the governor said. “Evil acts against innocent people in the places we once ran errands or recreated have also made us feel less safe. … We learned unfortunately that the words ‘fire season’ don’t apply when the most destructive fire in Colorado history happens at the end of December.”

Polis outlined earlier this week an agenda designed to ease the pain inflicted on residents by inflation that has reached 6.5% in the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He also called for investment in community policing, police officer recruitment and retention, affordable housing and mental health to address root causes of crime.

Majority Democrats in Colorado’s Legislature have introduced bills to address those issues. Republicans have seized on two issues key to the upcoming midterm elections — inflation and crime — and introduced legislation to eliminate sales taxes on food, lower the income tax rate, recruit and retain law enforcement officers and limit opportunities for repeat criminal offenders to be released on bond.

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Susan Carr
Susan Carr
8 days ago

This governor has destroyed lives and small businesses via his covid restrictions.