The American spirit of adventure and the pursuit of opportunity has drawn families to Colorado for generations. This spirit of frontier fairness brought my family here — when the bartender and the music teacher fell in love, and they came west looking for a better place to raise their family. They found it in Eagle County, where my brother and I grew up exploring the woods, learning to fish, and scheming how to sneak in every last run on the mountain before it got dark. My parents raised us in a community where everybody knew each other, the mortgage was affordable, and I could dream about raising a family and becoming a teacher, just like my mom.
That was the Colorado way: it does not matter who you are or where you came from — when you are here, everybody has a fair shot to work hard and live the life they choose.
The story of my family is the story of millions of families in the state. We’ve boomed from 4.3 million in 2000 to nearly 5.7 million today. This explosive growth has turned our economy into the envy of the nation. As we look forward, it is clear that we can’t and shouldn’t stop growth, but that we must harness it as an engine to build modern housing and transportation infrastructure worthy of the values that made Colorado such a great home for our families in the first place.
This requires a bold vision that can unite us, one that can bridge the divides between urban and rural; old and young; newcomers and natives. It requires a vision that doesn’t ask just what is needed to make Colorado more livable right now, but what investments will transform the state for our children and grandchildren. It requires a vision that makes living in Colorado safe, affordable, and convenient so that all Coloradans are free to pursue the life they desire and deserve.
As Governor, I will launch a smart growth plan with three key priorities:
Make Housing Affordable for All Coloradans.
- I will put government land to work to build affordable housing that can stay rent controlled for decades to come. At the same time that the cost of land holds back important development, the government holds many tracts of underutilized property; I will launch new public-private partnerships to provide affordable housing. As part of these deals, developers will be required to embrace rent control for fifty years into the future. This is the sort of creative solution we need to create affordable housing that stays affordable for decades to come.
- I will build a Governor’s Task Force designed to support and incent local efforts to make housing affordable. The reality is that most opportunities to improve access to housing are at the local level, and unlocking the full potential can be challenging for cash-strapped local governments. We will build a new team to better support their efforts. Their work would range from helping leverage tax incentives to building smart regulatory environments related to short-term rentals, and much in between.
Ensure the Experience of Homelessness is Rare, and Short.
- I will protect tenants’ rights. I will guarantee those at risk of eviction have access to legal representation, and reform landlord/tenant law to protect all Coloradans. As just one example, landlords are not currently required to provide copies of leases and rent receipts to their tenants — we will change this.
- I will support innovative solutions through Pay For Success financing. As a State Senator I passed Pay For Success legislation so the state could partner with nonprofits and private investors to accelerate the expansion of innovative solutions to important public problems. Helping the homeless transition to healthier lives saves the government money and is a perfect candidates for Pay For Success. Housing First, through which chronically homeless are given a place to live while addressing other challenges, is one proven approach to breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness that I hope to expand through such financing.
Build our Transportation Infrastructure so that Getting Around Colorado is Easy, Affordable, and Safe.
- I will invest in our roads, and expand public transportation options in every community. I will go to the ballot to help fund the CDOT backlog so that we can build safe roads in every community, and make critical upgrades to I-25 and I-70. Coloradans agree that we need to make these investments, and I know I can help build the coalition to get this done.
- I will work to make energy-efficient vehicles, like electric cars, the most attractive alternatives. I will scale our electric charging infrastructure throughout the state, and support public transportation electric vehicles, so we can increase transportation access without increasing our fossil fuel usage.
- I will support the development of innovative transit solutions, from high-speed transit to autonomous and connected vehicles. I will make sure Colorado is well-positioned to leverage solutions that can dramatically improve our transportation grid, at a fraction of the cost of traditional infrastructure, while setting the terms of where and how new technologies can best work for our families and communities.
Achieving these goals starts with repealing the worst parts of TABOR so we can adequately and equitably fund work that will make a meaningful difference in families’ lives and enable Colorado to thrive well into the future.
If we take a hands-on approach to growth, and work together to prepare for the future while preserving our communities, open lands, and clean air, we can keep Colorado a state of opportunity and welcome for generations to come.
Read the full policy paper here.