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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 13, 20174min543

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.


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Rachael WrightRachael WrightJune 1, 20178min317

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.


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Clifford D. MayClifford D. MayMay 25, 20178min445

The nation-state is a relatively new idea — scholars generally trace it back to the 17th century. It has its flaws but has anyone come up with a better approach to world order? A nation-state enjoys sovereignty over its territory. Territories are separated by borders. Securing those borders may require barriers and controlled points of entry.


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Sen. Irene AguilarSen. Irene AguilarMay 22, 20178min548

Measures brought before the Colorado General Assembly in this legislative session have shown that the contentious national debate on immigration has been jolting our state’s politics as well. As the federal government has shifted its policies to penalize so-called sanctuary cities and aggressively deport immigrants, we’ve seen conflicting bills introduced here on whether our state and cities should cooperate with the government to enforce immigration laws.


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Frank SegraveFrank SegraveApril 25, 20171min306

Colorado Bioscience companies are improving patient outcomes, strengthening the health care system and our state’s economy. My company, Silvergate Pharmaceuticals, has developed innovative pediatric treatments designed specifically to fill the unmet needs of children. We are one of the only companies that creates medicines to treat high blood pressure in children.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanApril 7, 20175min365
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Colorado’s population in 1992 was 3.5 million. Census projections put the state’s population in 2017 at 5.5 million. In 1992, 812,308 citizens — 53.68 percent of voters — said yes to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and 700,906 citizens — 46.32 percent of voters — said no.

Not to make too fine a point, but the 1.5 million 1992 voters on TABOR would comprise 27 percent of today’s population. And many of those 1.5 million people are no longer living in Colorado. Yet here we are, 25 years later, juggling TABOR limitations at the Capitol.

As background, the state in 1992 was in a deep recession from the oil and real estate bust of the 1980s. Front Range citizens especially were in an economic pit.

Downtown Denver was a dump: no Coors Field, no Pepsi Center, no new Mile High Stadium, no new Auraria Campus, no lightrail, no fancy Union Station, no pedestrian bridge over to the Highlands, no condos in LoDo or RiNo, downtown shopping fleeing to the suburbs, and prominent Denver retail names gone bankrupt.

Colorado Springs was hit hard as its real estate expansion of the ’80s died. Banks were on the brink of going out of business across the state.

After the anti-tax 1992 TABOR vote, Denver metro citizens did a 180-degree reverse and voted to build Denver International Airport. Then citizens voted for Coors Field and Mile High Stadium. With help from Gov. Bill Owens, RTD got a tax for light rail.

These investments set the stage for Colorado’s current economic vibrancy. The investments occurred based on a good feature of TABOR — let the people decide what projects and programs merit their money. Yet TABOR’s bad features, still in place, are wreaking havoc on the state’s budget.

Senator Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, was among five legislators who voted against SB-254, the budget appropriations Long Bill. He’s asking people to take a long view back and forward: “It’s a vote to raise the TABOR issue once again. We’re not funding our schools, oil and gas inspectors, renewable energy, or filling in gaps from cuts from D.C.”

It’s esoteric for newcomers to know that Colorado’s current budget is based on the 2009-2010 recession years due to TABOR. “Unlike other states, because of TABOR’s ratchet down effect, Colorado doesn’t get to make up for downturns and come back,” says Kerr.

When the state gins up more tax revenues, as it has, the budget base doesn’t move up. Its budget level continues at the 2009-2010 recession point, forcing refunds of extra tax dollars.

The Hospital Provider Reimbursement Fee portrays the problem. The health care fees, considered a tax, push state revenues above TABOR limits. The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee put up SB17-256 to reduce provider fees by $264 million, which causes an additional $264 million loss in federal matching funds.

The provider fee reimburses hospitals for delivering care to people who can’t pay. Without the fee, some hospitals, particularly in rural counties, don’t have enough money to operate. When those hospitals close, uninsured and insured alike lose care.

Four Democratic Senators, Irene Aguilar, Kerry Donovan, Matt Jones and Andy Kerr, and Republican Sen. Owen Hill, voted against the budget Long Bill. Also affected by TABOR is the ongoing $880 million annual negative factor that lowers public K-12 education spending. House members get to vote next.

So the question is, when will today’s citizens get the chance to vote on tax policy for today?