On January 17, 2023, Governor Jared Polis (D) delivered the 2023 State of the State Address to the Colorado General Assembly. During the address, Polis focused on the state’s leadup to its 150th anniversary in 2026. Polis highlighted past accomplishments, including protecting reproductive access, voting rights, and equality for the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some of Polis’s policy priorities for the upcoming session.
Climate Change and Energy
Governor Polis declared that Colorado had already secured a path to be on 80% renewable energy by 2030 and set a goal to have the state on track for 100% by 2040. Polis also proposed a new $120 million annual clean energy tax cut to improve air quality, accelerate innovation, and save individuals money on gas and energy costs.
Governor Polis also emphasized the continued importance of developing geothermal and hydrogen technologies, citing work as the chair of the bipartisan Western Governors Association in supporting geothermal energy initiatives. The budget request will also provide the funding necessary to make Colorado Mesa University the first fully powered geothermal institution in America. The state’s energy office is also leading a multi-state consortium with Utah and Wyoming to receive investment funding from the federal government to develop a hydrogen hub. Governor Polis also referenced proposed tax credits for electric vehicles and e-bikes to combat the energy crisis.
While Colorado ranks in the middle of national crime rates, Governor Polis believes the state should do more. Polis applauded legislators for further investments in law enforcement recruitment, retention, and additional support for crime prevention strategies. Polis referenced additional resources for crime diversion methods, including increased funding for Boys and Girls Clubs in the state, expanding the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and improving school safety. Governor Polis also proposed additional funding for programs to combat auto theft with new technologies.
Governor Polis stated that previous legislation to provide free, full-day kindergarten to Colorado children saved families thousands of dollars a year and celebrated that the free preschool program starting the 2023–2024 school year will save families at least $6,000 a year. Polis also announced support for a potential ballot measure to allow Colorado to use Prop EE funds for more preschool funding and a budget proposal to raise education funding by $925 per student. In the same breath, Polis called for increased teacher salaries, new investments in math curricula, and more research for educators. Polis also expressed the need for increased college credit courses in high school to bring down the costs of higher education and the need to support career and technical education, work-based apprenticeships, or industry certification and associate degrees.
Governor Polis proposed expanding Care Forward Colorado to offer free training for fields such as construction, firefighting, law enforcement, nursing, and early childhood education to increase the workforce and opportunity.
Governor Polis expressed support for the expansion of Colorado’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, including district attorneys and action to crack down on ghost guns.
According to Governor Polis, Colorado has supported response efforts for more than 2,000 wildfires since 2019. Investments the state has made to improve its response capabilities include the state’s first FireHawk helicopter and forest mitigation. Additionally, the Governor called for additional fire defense construction and improved aerial capabilities.
Governor Polis highlighted state healthcare programs, such as Reinsurance, the Colorado Option, Omni Salud, and expansions of Medicaid and CHIP, and that 34,000 new people had enrolled in Colorado Option plans. Polis also highlighted the state’s efforts to cap insulin costs and increase hospital transparency.
The state has also worked to create the Behavioral Health Administration in addition to investments through the American Rescue Plan Act to treat behavioral health. Governor Polis called for additional work to strengthen the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to help reduce prescription drug costs while imploring insurers and hospital systems to reduce prices.
Citing the last significant land-use law change in 1974, Governor Polis called for the legalization of more housing types to increase availability. Polis highlighted billions of dollars’ worth of investments in housing since 2019, including some from the American Rescue Plan Act. Polis also called for rolling back regulations and expanding private property rights to incentivize new construction. The state gave one grant to the City of Greeley, which used the funding to incentivize homes with a smaller footprint, including micro homes, and partnership opportunities with Habitat for Humanity. Another partnership between Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge resulted in a new 52-unit apartment complex designed for workers and applauded the expedited approval process. The state is making parcels of state-owned land available to assist with the housing shortage. The legislature also made a significant $200 million investment last year to combat homelessness, which Governor Polis celebrated.
In 2022, the state reduced Colorado property owners’ taxes by over $700 million through reductions in state property taxes. Citing housing values increasing 26%—much higher than an average wage increase—Governor Polis called for a long-term property tax relief to reduce residential and commercial property taxes and protect homeowners over the long term.
Governor Polis also cited two past income tax cuts since taking office and a direct $750 payment to all taxpayers last year to help with inflation costs. Polis reiterated support for gradual income tax cuts moving forward. Governor Polis also celebrated previous Earned Income Tax Credits and the state’s Child Tax Credit.
In conjunction with the state’s housing priorities, the state’s transportation work will build a new statewide foundation and transit system to create a network for Coloradoans to commute to work more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Governor Polis emphasized the need to protect the state’s water resources. Citing multiple challenges, including increased demand, drought, neighboring state conflicts, and wildfires, Polis warned that farming and ranching could become unsustainable without action. Polis highlighted over $23 million in past investments to help improve water infrastructure and quality.
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