Thu, May 12, 2022 12:00 PM
By By Robert Davis The Center Square contributor, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic lawmakers touted their legislative achievements during a press conference on Thursday, one day after the session ended.
Lawmakers said their focus for the legislative session was to “save people money” through a variety of means, including property tax reform and reducing fees. They also pledged to bolster the state’s early childhood education system and address public safety.
“I’m proud of the work that’s been accomplished during this legislative session for a stronger economy, cleaner air, better preparedness for wildfires, and investments in public safety to help make Colorado one of the ten safest states,” Gov. Jared Polis said during the press conference.
On housing and homelessness, lawmakers passed a bill that puts more than $200 million towards combat homelessness and a bill allocating $450 million to increase the state’s stock of affordable housing units.
On education, lawmakers passed a bill to offer universal pre-school statewide.
On affordability, lawmakers passed a $700 million property tax relief bill for Colorado homeowners, saving each homeowner an average of $274 on a $500,000 home.
“We stood up for Colorado and invested in the people that keep our economy running every day,” said Sen. Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder.
The legislature also passed bills to address public safety concerns such as combating fentanyl overdoses in the state. A bill passed shortly before the session ended will increase penalties for distributions and possession of compounds containing fentanyl.
Republicans and conservative advocacy groups in the state criticized Democrats for falling short on several key issues.
Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown in a statement called the fentanyl bill "a haphazard half-fix," and added that Democrats "refused to listen to Republicans who urged better solutions" for property tax relief.
"The Democrats' session-long refusal to listen to working people will cost them the election in November," she said. "Republicans will be ready to deliver on our Commitment to Colorado. Our legislators will make Colorado affordable again, prioritize public safety, and expand educational options for all parents and all kids."
Michael Fields, president of Advance Colorado Institute, said in a statement that Democratic leadership "failed at both" addressing cost of living and public safety.
"Instead of repealing the gas tax, capping property taxes, and making any amount of fentanyl possession a felony – they passed half-measures that will have little impact on these important issues," he said. "Coloradans want balance – and they clearly aren’t getting it right now."