A week after the November 2020 election, I wrote a column saying that Republicans need to develop a “Contract with Colorado” based on conservative policy proposals that 55% or more of voters support. I said, “Republicans have an opportunity over the next two years to set a clear agenda and articulate it to voters.”
After doing extensive statewide polling, certain themes really stood out. Coloradans want every citizen of our state to be allowed to flourish. They have strong opinions on issues – but want politicians to treat each other with respect and work to find common ground when they can. They are also concerned about the economy and the rising cost of living.
In order to address some of the big issues that Coloradans care about, here are 10 ideas for the GOP to fully embrace:
1. Continue to protect our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Few things are more popular than people being allowed to vote on any tax (or large fee) increase.
2. Lower taxes. Coloradans overwhelmingly support a property tax cut for both residential and commercial property. With housing costs on the rise, low-income families would especially benefit from this tax cut.
3. Increase teacher pay. More of the existing money we spend on education should go to teachers instead of the bureaucracy.
4. School choice. The impact of the pandemic on our education system has led to even more support for parental choice. Colorado should also pass a stipend for families to use for out-of-school learning opportunities – like tutoring.
5. Public safety. With crime on the rise in many Colorado communities, voters are looking for leadership on this issue. They strongly oppose any destruction of property. And while they are open to reforms within the law enforcement system, they certainly don’t want to dismantle or defund it.
6. Fixing our roads. Colorado needs to improve our roads with a majority of the funding coming from our current budget. Any revenue increase should go to a vote of the people. If it doesn’t, voters will overwhelmingly vote to repeal it.
7. Increase government transparency. All state expenditures should go through the General Assembly. The Governor or Attorney General should not be able to spend money that legislators have not directly authorized.
8. Conservation. One thing that unites Coloradans is our love for the environment. We need market-based solutions to ensure that we have a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.
9. Mental health. Despite spending over $1.4 billion per year in state spending, Colorado still ranks 33rd when it comes to mental health. Republicans and Democrats have to work together to reform and improve our mental health system.
10. More competition in health care. Coloradans are getting crushed by high health care costs. We need to eliminate unnecessary mandates that are preventing more competition in health insurance markets across the state.
With 42% of Coloradans choosing to be unaffiliated with a political party, it’s more important than ever for candidates to be clear about their plans if voters entrust them with power. If Colorado Republicans unite around a few key issues, and drive their message home with voters, I believe the party will quickly begin to make a comeback.
Michael Fields is the Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action.
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