Vail Daily column: Building a Better Colorado
Building a Better Colorado is a series of community summits across the state and is coming to Vail on Thursday. It is an opportunity to share your views on Colorado’s fiscal policy, elections and initiative process. As pulled from their website (www.betterco.org):
Colorado is a state with remarkable people who have done remarkable things. We can be pleased by our historic leadership in so many areas, but today, our state faces some real challenges, including:
• The ease with which our constitution can be amended.
• Decreasing citizen confidence and involvement in the election process
• The imbalance between citizens’ expectations of services which their state government provides and the ability of their government to meet those expectations
A growing and diverse coalition of concerned citizens, including Republicans,
Democrats and independents, is coming together under the banner “Building a Better
Colorado” with the shared belief that Colorado can be better.
“Building a Better Colorado” is a diverse, nonpartisan coalition of Coloradans that has come together with the shared belief that Colorado can do better than the divisive arguments that have come to dominate our political discourse.
By engaging citizens of all political ideologies in honest conversations, we’ll better understand the scope of opinion and perspective, and use that input to form workable solutions to key challenges facing Colorado:
• More than 1 million voters can’t participate in primary elections, turnout is dropping, and people are increasingly selecting “unaffiliated” when registering to vote;
• Our state constitution is cluttered and conflicted because rules make it easy to amend the constitution, but difficult to change those amendments down the road; and
• The state’s fiscal policy — as mandated by voters per the constitution — is unsustainable given competing revenue and spending mandates.
To keep the conversation focused on the very real challenges facing Colorado, and to increase opportunities for success, we will not carry forward any ideas that seek to undo the right of voters to approve all tax increases.
Building a Better Colorado is not advocating for specific policy recommendations — instead, we want to facilitate constructive dialogue among Coloradans who want to see better and more responsible governance.
And once everyone’s had a chance to participate in the conversation, we’re committed to supporting consensus-driven policy recommendations.
Having a forum to discuss statewide issues is important, and regardless of your political leanings and beliefs, Building a Better Colorado provides such an opportunity for us here in the mountain region to have a voice within the state. Improving the governance of the state might be an uphill battle, and it shouldn’t be a political fight (even in an election year). A desire to improve our governance is something on which Republicans and Democrats alike should agree.
After all, Colorado, for all its positives, has some serious challenges, and we’re unlikely to solve them with partisan bickering. It just might take a collaborative, across-the-aisle partnership with feedback from throughout the state.
Colorado is an anomaly — we’re one of the few purple states, resulting in an influx of dollars spent on political advertising for our statewide races as well as during presidential election years. Unaffiliated voters currently make up the largest voting block in Colorado (and growing). In fact, 67 percent of newly registered voters in 2014 registered unaffiliated and we’re on pace for unaffiliated voters to exceed Republican and Democratic voters combined. Yet these voters are not able to participate in primary elections, which determine our candidates for office.
You might say that is politics and who can participate in primary elections doesn’t concern me. Consider this: based on state demographer and federal census figures, Colorado’s population is expected to grow by an additional 2.3 million people by 2040. That alone is going to impact the way we live (traffic congestion, I-70 infrastructure funding, water, schools, overall quality of life). These issues certainly concern everyone regardless of party affiliation.
Add to our population growth the fact that Colorado’s constitution is one of the most easily amendable in the U.S. Because of this, we have voted on more ballot initiatives than almost any other state, resulting in the occasional state amendments that conflict with each other – with one amendment requiring spending caps and another requiring spending increases.
Nonpartisan political dialogue in an election year is an ambitious goal; join Build a Better Colorado on January 14 from 4pm-6pm at the Grand View Room in Lionshead to share your feedback and be part of the dialogue on these issues and more. RSVP at http://bit.ly/BBCOEagle.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.