Scanlan seeks another term |

Scanlan seeks another term

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News
Vail, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado – Democratic incumbent Christine Scanlan is up for re-election in November to her second full term as representative for House District 56. Scanlan lives in Summit County, as does her Republican challenger, Debra Irvine.

Representing Eagle, Summit and Lake counties in the past three legislative sessions (the first was by appointment), her priorities have been public education, mountain pine beetle mitigation and supporting the tourism industry and small business.

But this year, the No. 1 item on Scanlan’s mind is balancing the state budget and its anticipated $1.1 billion deficit.

“It’s the only issue, to be honest,” she said. “We have already cut across the board and still will have to next year.”

She said it’s difficult to imagine taking more funding from health and human services when, according to state data, child abuse rates are up, domestic violence rates are up, the need for health care is amplified and there exists a “myriad of issues that come with this type of recession.”

“How do you (cut) in a time when those needs are greatest, and how do we do it in a way that does the least harm to those critical services?” Scanlan said.

Education is an area where Scanlan doesn’t want to see cuts, though they’ll likely occur. She carried Senate Bill 191, a teacher and principal evaluation bill that has become “model legislation in 12 states,” she said. She has also been helping to rework the Colorado Student Assessment Program so it better measures a child’s learning. Additionally, she worked on an education bill that allowed Colorado Mountain College to offer four-year degrees. She hopes to increase access to college, particularly for first-generation students.

She added that she’s looks unfavorably on Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101, primarily for their effects on education funding and subsequent effects on other government-funded services.

“Throw us over the cliff,” Scanlan said. “Any one of these passing would be destructive. All together, they would be catastrophic for the state.”

One way Scanlan sees hope for the lagging economy is by rebuilding from the bottom. Promoting small business in House District 56 equates to promoting innovative ways to use beetle-killed timber and bolstering tourism, she said.

“Small business makes up two-thirds of the economic drivers to Colorado’s economy,” the incumbent said, adding that the existing state line of credit is an example of ways the state can help buffer and bolster small business.

Scanlan has worked with State Sen. Dan Gibbs on beetle-related topics ranging from tax deductions for homeowners who actively protect their homes to helping leverage $30 million from the federal government to pour into mitigation efforts.

“The challenge has been showing the magnitude of 3.5 million acres, from here to Wyoming, of dead and dying trees. It’s bigger than the state of Delaware,” Scanlan said. She added that approximately 100,000 trees fall per day, which means public safety hazards and threats to power lines, including three major power lines that stretch through the forests and connect to the Western grid.

If chosen to serve another term, Scanlan said major challenge’s would be sustaining the level of federal support for beetle-kill management as well as the $15 million she fought to keep in the state budget for tourism.

“Every dollar spent on tourism in Colorado realizes a $6 to $13 return,” Scanlan said. “When it was cut before, it took years and years to regain the support.”

If federal funding for beetle-kill efforts is secure, the goal is then to translate it into effectiveness in the local, affected communities. Those dollars need to translate to money well spent, Scanlan said, and to do so, locals must help prioritize and implement ideas that utilize the funds.

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