April 11, 2012

(Denver) – House Democrats launched an 11th-hour attempt today to boost 2012 job creation in Colorado, introducing a series of budget amendments to fund programs that will fuel the state’s economy and connect Coloradans to good jobs.

In the absence of any GOP effort to kick-start the state’s economy, House Democratic Leader Mark Ferrandino asked for bipartisan support to put the legislature’s money where its mouth is – backing new investments this year to strengthen what is still a fragile economic recovery in Colorado.

“I call on my colleagues across the aisle to show they’re serious about jobs in Colorado,” said Rep. Ferrandino (D-Denver). “It’s time to forget party differences and do what’s right for the citizens of this state.”

The jobs measures, introduced today as part of a Democratic package of amendments to the state budget “long bill,” would:

·        Expand the operations of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Economic Development Commission, which offers performance-based incentives to attract new companies to Colorado and retain the ones already here. The amendment would transfer $5.7 million from a fund to expand and revise the CSAP tests two years earlier than is required.

·        Launch the “Tech Transfer” program, sponsored by Reps. Dave Young (D-Greeley) and Ferrandino, making it easier for Colorado businesses to bring sophisticated new products and services out of the laboratory and into the market, producing more well-paid jobs. Two amendments are being offered: one, sponsored by Rep. Young, would transfer $5 million from the controlled maintenance fund to fully fund the program; the other, by Rep. Ferrandino, would transfer $1.5 million from the same source for partial funding.

·        Boost funding for the state’s Small Business Development Centers, Colorado’s most effective economic development program. The amendment, offered by Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood), would transfer $300,000 from the CSAP fund.

·        Fund the “Angel Investor” program sponsored by Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins), which would give tax incentives to venture capitalists who invest in Colorado companies. The amendment would transfer $250,000 from the CSAP fund.

·        Direct the governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade to give preference to companies based in Colorado and using Colorado workers. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs), would have no fiscal impact.

So far, the only jobs proposals this session to have passed the House, where Republicans have a 33-32 majority, have been the Skills for Jobs Act and a task force to study enterprise zones.

Skills for Jobs will help students to receive, and educators to offer, training and skills tailored for jobs that are actually in demand. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Englewood), was signed into law this month by Gov. Hickenlooper.

The enterprise zone study, sponsored by Rep. Ferrandino, will take a look at the state’s largest but least efficient economic development program. It passed the House unanimously and awaits Senate action. Like Skills for Jobs, it can be implemented without costing the taxpayers a dime.

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