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Opinion: Colorado House Democrats return to the Capitol with a message to the GOP

Twenty-eight state House Democrats pen a pledge: It's "not the time" for politics. "No games, no delays -- let’s all pull together to help Coloradans"

Most people don’t know who their legislator is, and we’re OK with that. But, many people also don’t truly understand what we do, and we’re definitely not OK with that. 

While some people urged us to get back to work during the stay-at-home phase of the pandemic, the truth is we never stopped working.

We’ve been working hard to stay in touch with our communities so we understand the problems they are facing during the pandemic, including making calls to seniors and other vulnerable populations.

We’ve been connecting with small businesses, chambers of commerce, nonprofit organizations and other community providers, to share information and resources.

In short, we’ve been helping constituents connect to the resources they need to get through COVID, including health, business, unemployment, rent and mortgage issues. 

Reps. Lisa Cutter, Dafna Michaelson-Jenet and Barbara McLachlan

In fact, the House Democrats have held in excess of 90 virtual town halls, distributed more than 250 newsletters and contacted thousands of constituents during this crisis. We’ve hosted PPE drives and worked to support our communities in myriad other ways. 

And because times of crisis bring out both the best and the worst in people, we’ve been working to lead by example, specifically calling out hateful rhetoric and inequities in the impacts of COVID.

By words and actions, leaders lead. In times of crisis, though we, too, might be stumbling in the dark, it is up to us to hold the flashlight and help lead others through. We must continue to hold the vision for better times and take the steps necessary to make that future a reality. 

As we prepare to return to the Capitol on Tuesday, many members have been working on implementing proper public health and safety precautions and options for remote testimony so we don’t put our families or members of the public at risk while still doing our jobs.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

We welcome the opportunity to return and pass legislation to help Coloradans through this recovery period, including voting on our budget. But we are also aware that this will likely be the most difficult thing we’ve done as legislators.

Colorado’s antiquated tax policy does not allow us to be nimble in responding to budget issues, and has put us in a vulnerable position during an unprecedented and deeply challenging crisis.  

Because revenue is down and federal dollars will not be available to meet the resulting budget shortfalls, we will be making some difficult decisions. But this is the situation we are in, and we are prepared to make these decisions based on our values — supporting the people of Colorado and ensuring basic needs are met; jobs, housing, education and physical and mental healthcare. 

It is not as simple as claiming we’ll protect certain expenditures. With cuts in excess of $3 billion required, there is no area that will remain untouched. Through the legislation we’ve championed, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to people. Because we know that investments in people — teachers, children, families and workers — are the best, most lucrative investments we can make.

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

We wish we didn’t have to make decisions that will impact people in our state so profoundly. But because of the way we are constitutionally required to fund programs and services, we have little flexibility. Because we do not have the option to save excess taxes during flush times (and there have been plenty), we do not have a rainy day fund. And it’s pouring.

This pandemic has caused many of us to reflect on our priorities and consider what is working and what is no longer serving us. One thing is crystal clear; while no one could have predicted a crisis of this magnitude, our inability to plan and save for a crisis and have some flexibility with our budget is not working. 

Now is not the time to grandstand and make promises we can’t keep. Now is the time to come together to solve problems and ease the difficulties faced by millions of Coloradans. And this is what we have been doing. 

This is not a game. Even if you believe there is a time for politics, this is not the time. We are prepared to show up and do the work, and hope our colleagues from across the aisle will join us. No games, no delays — let’s all pull together to help Coloradans. That’s our job and you are counting on us.

Co-signed by Democratic House representatives:

  • Shannon Bird
  • Edie Hooten
  • Meg Froelich
  • Yadira Caraveo
  • Janet Buckner
  • Bri Buentello
  • Monica Duran
  • Cathy Kipp
  • Sonya Jaquez Lewis
  • Jeni Arndt
  • Tom Sullivan
  • Dominique Jackson
  • Julie McCluskie
  • Alec Garnett
  • Adrienne Benavidez
  • Brianna Titone
  • Jonathan Singer
  • Alex Valdez
  • James Coleman
  • Tony Exum
  • Mary Young
  • Susan Lontine
  • Marc Snyder
  • Chris Kennedy
  • Tracy Kraft-Tharpe

State Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Morrison, represents Colorado House District 25 in Jefferson County.  Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, represents Colorado House District 59. Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, represents Colorado House District 30. 


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