Scott TiptonScott TiptonSeptember 12, 20178min465

Over the month of August, my team and I traveled over 1,700 miles across the 3rd Congressional District and state of Colorado, making over 30 stops to discuss the most pressing issues facing our nation. I had the privilege of visiting with local economic development leaders, county commissioners, school boards, health care providers, veterans groups, substance abuse professionals and many others — including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. He visited the Gold King Mine site on the two-year anniversary of the toxic spill to reassure the community that the EPA is prioritizing cleanup of the site and will make those impacted by the spill whole.

There are a few themes that I heard throughout the month no matter where I was, and it is clear that jobs and the economy, health care, and the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic are top of mind for many Coloradans.

In Colorado, we have a tale of two economies. While resort towns and major metropolitan areas are thriving, there are many communities on the Western Slope, Front Range, and in the San Luis Valley where families are struggling. The legacy of heavy-handed federal regulations is still preventing the private sector in these communities from creating jobs and supporting economic security.

According to the Small Business Administration’s 2016 statistics, small businesses support 49 percent of Colorado’s workforce. Small businesses are truly the backbone of our state’s economy, and we must do everything we can to support entrepreneurs and job creators. Unfortunately, a 2014 study by the Brookings Institute showed an alarming trend: in recent years, the number of small businesses that have shut down exceeds the number that have opened their doors. Nowhere has this trend been felt more profoundly than in rural America, where small businesses are responsible for approximately two-thirds of all jobs.

As a former small business owner, my focus in Congress has been on advancing policies that will create an environment where we see more businesses opening than closing each year. When more businesses open, struggling families have more job opportunities and a better chance at achieving financial stability.

While it takes time to undo nearly a decade of harmful regulatory policies, we are making progress on this front in the 115th Congress. So far this year, Congress passed and the president has signed 14 congressional resolutions of disapproval that roll back unnecessary, overly burdensome federal regulations, and the House passed the REINS Act (H.R. 26), which would require Congressional approval of any regulation that would have an economic impact of $100 million or more. Although we still have a long way to go, I am confident that we are heading in the right direction to deliver more job opportunities and economic stability to families in the 3rd Congressional District.

The Colorado Division of Insurance recently announced that premiums in the state’s individual health insurance market will increase by 26.7 percent on average in 2018. This is on top of the 20 percent increase in 2017 and 24 percent increase in 2016. The trajectory is unsustainable and unacceptable. We must repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Act and bring affordable health insurance to the 3rd Congressional District.

In May, the House made important progress towards this goal by passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill would drive down the cost of health insurance and bring competition and choice to the market, while ensuring that individuals who have pre-existing conditions maintain access to affordable health insurance. In addition to the AHCA, the House also passed bills to begin medical tort reform — an issue that needs to be addressed in order to drive down health care costs — and allow small businesses and associations to provide insurance options for their employees or members across state lines, which will give individuals and families more choices when it comes to their insurance coverage. These bills were the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215), Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 1101), and the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (H.R. 372).

The Senate has not yet passed the AHCA or a health care bill of its own that would allow both chambers to compromise on final legislation. It is beyond time for the Senate to act.

As I have traveled our district to speak with the men and women who work on the front lines of the opioid abuse epidemic, it has become clear to me that Colorado has some of the most dedicated doctors, nurses, counselors, and substance abuse professionals in the country. The president recently declared the opioid abuse epidemic a national emergency, and I have been committed to ensuring our communities have the resources they need to develop and sustain prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act and Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) were both signed into law. These bills authorized programs to provide states with more resources to expand opioid abuse prevention and treatment efforts. As a result of these bills, Colorado received $7.8 million to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and the Department of Health and Human Services has made $75.9 million in competitive grants available to state mental health and substance abuse agencies.

I continue to receive feedback on how the federal government can better support Colorado’s efforts to fight the opioid abuse epidemic, and I’m committed to incorporating this feedback into policy decisions that are made in Washington.

Congress has a full agenda between now and the end of the year. If you have any questions about bills that are up for a vote or my work on your behalf, please do not hesitate to give my office in Washington, DC, a call at 202-225-4761. You can also write to me on my website, www.tipton.house.gov.


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJune 20, 20175min255

Colorado’s economy has grown for the past eight years since the economic downturn, and it’s on a path towards the longest expansion in the state’s history, lawmakers heard Tuesday.

State budget writers received an update from the governor’s office and legislative staff on the June revenue forecast for the state.

Colorado is currently in its third-largest economic expansion in the state’s history, with a record-low May unemployment rate of 2.3 percent. Colorado enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.

The national unemployment rate stands at 4.3 percent.

The Colorado unemployment rate is expected to tick up, but only slightly, meaning the state will continue to benefit from a booming jobs market and economy, albeit with some constraint ahead.

As expected, the economy is not uniform throughout the state, with most of the productive economic activity taking place along the urban Front Range corridor.

But overall, state economists believe Colorado is poised for continued success.

“It is an economy that is close to or pretty much at productive capacity,” said Natalie Mullis, chief economist for Colorado Legislative Council staff.

The forecast, however, is a bit uncertain, as several unforeseen factors remain in play, including an increase in automation for jobs, the state’s growing aging population, and the emergence of so-called “shadow markets,” which utilize the internet and apps.

That said, the economy could also do better than economists anticipate: “It’s possible that there is more capacity in the economy and we’re really not truly in a mature capacity … which would mean our forecast is pessimistic,” Mullis said.

Also weighing on the forecast is the rising price of housing costs in Colorado.

“There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for the supply of labor to increase,” said economist Larson Silbaugh, pointing out that the state needs housing options for an increased workforce.

Economists also believe that the cost of doing business in the state will go up, which means prices will be passed on to consumers, which could cause inflation. Either way, the economy will continue to grow, but more likely at a constrained pace.

In terms of impact to state government, revenue that is used for discretionary spending is increasing at a modest 3.4 percent pace in the current fiscal year, but it’s expected to increase at a stronger 6.7 percent rate in the upcoming fiscal year that begins in July, according to an assessment by the governor’s office.

Budget writers were concerned that the greater revenue impact on the current fiscal year would be from declining oil and gas prices. But a new factor to consider is that taxpayers appeared to delay income from investment gains given uncertainty in Washington, D.C. over likely federal tax changes.

“Colorado reached two significant milestones this year – the number one economy in the country and the state’s lowest unemployment on record,” Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Our challenge now is maintaining this success and that requires addressing tight labor and affordable housing conditions.”

Lawmakers may have some additional budget maneuvering ahead of them in next year’s legislative session, though reserves are $52.3 million above the level that would trigger immediate mandatory budget-balancing moves by the governor’s office, according to Henry Sobanet, the governor’s budget director.

Recent action by the legislature on restructuring a fee that is assessed on hospital bed stays is starting to take form as well. The state is below its spending limit, which means taxpayer refunds are not expected, though they were not expected in the upcoming fiscal year even without the change in law.

Revenue from cash funds will decrease 17.3 percent in the upcoming fiscal year, as the Hospital Provider Fee is restructured to exempt it from contributing to the state’s spending cap, according to the governor’s office.

The move by the legislature also lowered the state spending limit cap by $200 million, so there is some uncertainty in the future over when taxpayer rebates would be triggered.

Jared WrightJared WrightJune 16, 20176min205

A major step forward for transportation occurred earlier this year with the approval of the Central 70 project by the federal government. This project involves the reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch between I-25 and Chambers Road and the replacement of a 50-year-old viaduct on Interstate 70. With the approval, the Colorado Department of Transportation could begin work in early 2018.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 13, 20174min347

Just in case you didn’t get enough of the immigration debate during Colorado’s 2017 legislative session, New American Economy thought you’d like some fodder for starting your own discussion on the subject in the off season.

The business-backed, pro-immigration advocacy group started in 2010 by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and major CEOs — love ’em or not — has become a repository of facts and figures about the role immigrants play in the U.S. economy. (Whether the immigrants are documented or otherwise.)

The group sends the media regular updates. The latest arrived over the transom this week, announcing, “We’ve now mapped the impact of immigration in over 100 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States,” and it invites you to click on a button and get relevant economic data for immigrants in a selected city or state.

How does Colorado stack up?

Colorado is home to some of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. From 2013 to 2014, Greeley and Fort Collins ranked among the top 20 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. Foreign-born residents moving to the state have been a critical driver of that population growth. By 2014, more than half a million immigrants were living in the state. These new Americans serve as everything from technology entrepreneurs to farm laborers, making them critical contributors to Colorado’s economic success overall.

Some specifics:

  • Colorado has 532,903 foreign-born residents, or 10 percent of the state’s population.
  • These immigrants paid $3.3 billion in total taxes in 2014, the latest year for which data is available. $1.1 billion of that was state and local taxes.
  • Immigrants pumped $10.8 billion into the economy that year.
  • There were 32,115 immigrant entrepreneurs who owned businesses.

There’s also a section on undocumented immigrants, who, according to New American Economy, comprise 189,130 of Colorado’s immigrants and paid $313.7 million in total taxes. The section includes this commentary:

The United States is currently home to an estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom have lived in the country for more than five years. The presence of so many undocumented immigrants for such a long time presents many legal and political challenges. But while politicians continue to debate what to do about illegal immigration without any resolution, millions of undocumented immigrants are actively working across the country, and collectively, these immigrants have a large impact on the U.S. economy. This is true in Colorado, where undocumented immigrants contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes each year.

There’s more data, too, including a breakdown of Colorado’s immigrant population by economic sector — from agriculture to science, technology, engineering and math.

However you choose to interpret the data — and wherever you come down on immigration policy — there’s plenty of information here to serve as a conversation starter. Maybe even enough to keep you busy until the official face-off begins again in the General Assembly next January.


Rachael WrightRachael WrightJune 1, 20178min234

Thirty Years Ago this Week in the Colorado Statesman … State Rep. Faye Fleming, D-Th0rnton, switched her party affiliation from Democratic to Republican Feb. 14, 1987, only six weeks after she took office. One of her campaign contributors, United Steel Workers Local 8031, threatened to sue her for misrepresentation. The influential union also took to the streets contacting her constituents. A signature drive operation for Fleming’s recall had already been on the ground since March.