Colorado Gov. Jared Polis expressed his desire for making sure the state’s economy recovers from the pandemic during his annual State of the State address Wednesday morning at the Capitol, and praised health care workers for their service, which continues as vaccinations spread across the state.
His main themes were of mourning for what the pandemic has wrought in Colorado, but also optimism, not just for the end of the virus, but for “the boldness to imagine a better future … and bring it to life.” He spoke of equitable education and health care, better roads and highways, rural broadband and investments in the economy in the forms of tax breaks and small business loans, especially in tourism and renewable energy sectors.
Colorado is just two weeks shy of the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being confirmed in the state. Since then, Polis has had unprecedented power over state government operations — from emergency declarations to a “dial” for reopening plans — while the legislature has had a more passive, advisory role. His speech Wednesday pointed to measures that lawmakers passed to help Coloradans during the pandemic — from housing and utility assistance to stimulus payments.
The legislature and Polis share many priorities this year, chiefly on the COVID-19 front, though lawmakers will be looking to push on other things. More than 200 bills debuted Tuesday and that’s just the beginning.
Money is limited when it comes to a $1 billion state stimulus package that Polis has indicated he wants, because Colorado can’t deficit-spend; the governor and legislative leaders are expected to work on a proposal in the coming weeks.
Polis said Wednesday there are “key proposals in my budget request that will jumpstart our economy, but we know we can’t stop there,” calling for bipartisan ideas.
He touched on racial inequities across the state, which were exacerbated by the pandemic. He said there have been 58 vaccine pop-up clinics in underserved areas, and also praised the legislature for the changes made to the criminal justice system since 2019, including a bill to hold Colorado police accountable after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.