Wrapping up the 2020 Legislative Session and Hitting the Campaign Trail!
Life has been moving fast since we adjourned Sine Die on June 16 for the last day of the 2020 Legislative Session! The 2020 legislative session was unlike any other session before it. From an unprecedented global health emergency and the dire budget consequences we faced, to the chaotic flashpoint of a centuries-long struggle for justice taking place outside of the Capitol, we’ve had everything but business as usual at the General Assembly this year. I am proud of how the House of Representatives rose to the occasion and worked to pass responsible laws to protect the health and safety of hardworking Coloradans and get our state back on track to a full economic recovery.
Here are a few of the highlights from this exceptional legislative session:
- The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented $3.3 billion state budget shortfall. As the newest of the six members of the Joint Budget Committee, I’m proud to say we took our responsibilities seriously in crafting Colorado’s budget. We spent weeks agonizing over very difficult funding decisions while we prioritized resources for public schools, higher education and critical health and safety services. For a complete overview of the long bill, including the funding narrative and state agency budgets, click here.
- We put together a package of COVID-19 Relief bills that provide small business loans & grants, housing, food and utility assistance, paid sick leave, and expanded unemployment insurance.
- We expanded access to health care and put the reinsurance program on a sustainable funding path for the next five years with (SB20-215);
- With (HB20-1427), we referred a nicotine tax measure to the ballot that would generate revenue for public schools, particularly small, rural school districts, for the next three years, and then provide funding for a statewide early childhood education program for all 4-year-olds in Colorado!
- We empowered local communities in accessing grants for rural broadband (HB20-1137); strengthened the rights of mobile home owners (HB20-1196); ensured lower wealth communities had access to wildfire mitigation funds (HB20-1057); modernized Colorado’s 9-1-1 emergency notification system (HB20-1293) and established an early childhood mental health consultation system in statute for the first time in our history (HB20-1053).
- Visit leg.colorado.gov for a complete look at all of the bills from the session!
Since returning home, I’ve had time to catch up with constituents in House District 61, better understand the challenges facing the hardworking people of the high country, and reflect on the cries for social justice heard from every corner of our country. While members of the general assembly were able to work effectively during a constrained session to pass some rather significant legislation, it is clear we have a great deal more to do for the hardworking people of this state.
I praise Coloradans for putting the health and safety of one another first by wearing masks, socially distancing and staying home when possible. I celebrate the ingenuity and resiliency of my neighbors and friends during these difficult times; and I commend all of you who are supporting your own families and then sharing your time, talent and treasure with those less fortunate. We are Colorado Strong!
It is with all this in mind that I proudly share my hope to continue as your State Representative and ask for your support as I hit the campaign trail in search of re-election in November 2020! I need your help to win this seat and here’s what you can do:
- Please take a moment to share your support – share this website with your networks, or tag me on social media at @McCluskieforCO (FB, Twitter, Instagram)
- Join our campaign volunteer kick-off Monday, July 20 at 5pm on Zoom! Click here to RSVP and we’ll send you the link.
- Click Here to Make a Donation Today! We know that times are hard for many of us, but if you’re in a position to donate please consider giving to our campaign. Anything you can contribute helps us connect with voters and share our message for protecting our Colorado way of life.
Warm Summer Wishes for you and your family, Julie
2020 Legislative Session – A Seat at the Table…May 2020
I returned to the State Capitol in early May with my fellow members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and began the painful task of dismantling months of hard work on the state’s budget. Crafting a balanced budget meant accepting the May 2020 updated forecast which indicates an unimaginable general fund revenue shortfall of nearly -3.3 billion dollars or a whopping 25% reduction from fiscal year 2019-20. To put things in perspective, this impact is nearly 2.5 times as large as the financial downturn in 2008 after the Great Recession.
Given these tough times, I’ve been asked if I regret my appointment in January to the JBC. It’s been a roller coaster ride, for sure. We’ve moved from a thriving economy where we had an opportunity to make greater investments in public schools, higher education and transportation to a barren fiscal landscape requiring significant cuts and reductions to essential services, safety net programs and so much more.
Yet as challenging as these reductions have been, I can’t imagine trading my seat at the table and giving up my chance to fight for our high country values and Western Slope priorities.
In committee meetings, I’ve been advocating for accessible health care by protecting funding for our community health clinics and preserving our second year of reinsurance savings. I raised my voice in support of getting our economy back up and running by maintaining funding for Colorado tourism, marketing for our agricultural industry, and maintaining rural economic development grants. We’re continuing our fight for climate action by maintaining investments in the public safety and welfare measures we passed for oil and gas development. And while we’ve made some difficult reductions to health and human services, we worked hard to preserve critically important funding for housing, food, child care, and other safety net assistance programs.
Our reductions to public schools and higher education have been the most painful. We combed through every department, leaving no stone unturned, all to try and protect our investments in education. And while Federal CARES Act money can not be used to backfill these reductions, I am pleased to see that local schools, colleges and universities are receiving this support to help them offset COVID19 impacts. Never before has it been more critical to find a sustainable, ongoing funding source for public education!
For a deeper dive on the proposed 2020-2021 Budget, check out this article from The Colorado Sun.
#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd Protests and Vandalism at the Capitol
After days of protests, tear gas and vandalism, it is clear that pain is walking the streets of our cities. Raw, exposed nerves; throbbing emotions pumping in raised fists; anger gushing into the space between the dramatically different lived experiences of white and black America.
This pain showed up as broken windows and graffiti at our State Capitol. I am hurt by the desecration of the monuments erected on these grounds. The Capitol is a symbol of our democracy, a place for all people, a place of history and of hope. This is the sacred place where we make right what is wrong in the world.
I’ve been asked if I support the protests and that is not the question I want to answer. Without hesitation, yes, I support our rights to peaceful protests, freedom of speech and marches for justice. But more importantly, we need to respond to the “why” these demonstrations are happening in the first place. These protests are a manifestation of the extraordinary pain felt by communities of color who cry for justice, not just in response to the death of #GeorgeFloyd, but to the white privilege embedded in our institutions and laws.
My voice seems small and unworthy at this moment, but I raise it in support of the those fighting social injustice, racism and bigotry. I raise it in support of my colleagues in the House of Representatives who ask me to stand beside them as they lead the way to a more just Colorado.
Photo from State Representative Susan Lontine
As we move through this time of transition back to a new normal way of living, I encourage you to check out this website for more resources, services and programs available to support our working families: https://covid19.colorado.gov/. If you are able to give of your time, talents or treasure, please visit https://helpcoloradonow.org/. And remember to wear a mask, especially for those on the front lines – health care workers, law enforcement, and essential service workers at our grocery stores, gas stations, etc.