Two days after his inauguration, Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) laid out his vision for the future of the Centennial State during his first State of the State Thursday morning. It was a vision that included free full-day kindergarten and preschool, the implementation of an “Office of Saving People Money on Health Care” and lowering the income tax rate.
“The state of our state is solid,” Polis said. “It is strong. It is successful. It is daring. And it is bold.”
FULL SPEECH: Read the full State of the State speech here
The beginning of the Democrat’s speech focused on education. Polis advocated for expanding free full-day kindergarten to across the state by fall 2019 – something he called the “single biggest expansion of early childhood expansion in Colorado.”
Polis argued that this proposal would not cut into other aspects of the budget, but did not go into detail about how.
His proposals for education also included student loan relief for teachers working in the state’s high-need areas, and while he said teachers “deserve to be compensated as the hardworking professionals they are,” Polis didn’t elaborate about teacher pay specifically.
Polis called the “outrageous” cost of healthcare one of the biggest problems facing the country.
Among his proposals was requesting paid paternity leave for all state employees, as well as expanding the leave program in general for people whose loved ones are experiencing illness.
His administration will also add an “Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare,” which Polis said was given an intentionally simple name. This will be led by Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera, a cancer survivor.
"She's dedicated her life to help others get quality, affordable healthcare and we couldn't ask for anyone better to lead this administration's health care efforts," Polis said.
Polis said his efforts in lowering healthcare costs will also include a reinsurance program similar to one in other states and a way for Colorado to import prescription drugs from Canada, where he says they are cheaper.
Polis said he wants to capitalize on the green industry economy while adding more jobs. Part of his proposal was to transition Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
Without specifying how, Polis said he wanted to “do right” by people working in the oil and gas industry along the way, and support the communities that rely on it.
"We will continue to support the communities these jobs have sustained to make sure that they can thrive too as we enter a renewable energy economy," Polis said.
His economic proposals also included revamping the state’s transportation infrastructure to “sustain a growing 21st-century economy” and ensuring everyone in the state can get high-speed internet access.
The final part of his speech involved reforming the tax code to reduce income tax for families while increasing the tax rate for corporations.
"Our tax reform proposals will not change how much money our state collects," Polis said.
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