RECAP: Gov. Polis talks tragedies, law enforcement, and rising housing costs during State of the State address

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Colorado Governor Jared Polis makes a point about the state's modeling efforts against the coronavirus during a news conference Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — Statements of gratitude, remembrance, and hope were found in abundance during Gov. Jared Polis’ 2022 State of the State address.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, Polis delivered his State of the State address to the Colorado General Assembly. The governor started his speech by recognizing the thousands of people who were affected by the destructive Marshall Fire and tragic mass shootings, including the King Soopers shooting in Boulder last spring.

“Evil acts against innocent people in the places where we once ran errands or recreated have also made us feel less safe,” Polis said. “We were reminded, once more, that our lives, and everything we hold dear can go up in flames in an instant. Yet hope shines through.”

Polis went on to describe the hope he has seen Coloradans who have stepped up during tragedies, such as healthcare workers, firefighters, and law enforcement members, namely Lakewood Police Officer Ashley Ferris, Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley and Arvada Officer Gordan Beesley.

“This isn’t my Colorado or your Colorado, this is our Colorado, which is why we respond together, we heal together, we move forward together and wee succeed together.”

GOV. JARED POLIS

Polis emphasized his desire to help businesses and families succeed during the new legislative session, saying it means “taking less of your hard earned money in fees and taxes.”

That emphasis comes one day after Colorado Republican lawmakers criticized a massive transportation funding bill, which passed in 2021, that increased fees in many areas around motor vehicles.

RISING HOUSING AND EDUCATION COSTS

Polis also highlighted increasing inflation and the skyrocketing cost of housing across Colorado’s Front Range and mountain communities. In song form, he promised to cut taxes while reiterating his desire for universal preschool to be funded in Colorado.

“This isn’t a new idea for my administration,” Polis said. It’s been hard-wired in our DNA from day one.”

While universal kindergarten became law in 2019, lawmakers set a goal and framework to create universal preschool by 2023.

Republicans also criticized Democrats for their ideas to fund voter-approved Paid Family and Medical leave, saying the burden small businesses and families would have to bear on payroll taxes would be too great.

Polis proposed cutting those fees, as well as fees for unemployment insurance premiums.

He also took aim at driver’s license fees and vehicle registration fees.

On affordable housing, Polis highlighted 14,000 units that have been added across the state in the last year, and expressed the desire for more of those projects, by utilizing some of the money available for those projects as part of the American Rescue Plan, passed by the U.S Congress in 2021.

“Rising housing costs are pricing people out of neighborhoods they’ve lived in for years.”

MENTAL HEALTH AND LAW ENFORCEMENT REFORM

Polis also highlighted the toll the pandemic has created on Mental Health and the “I matter” program, a website at imattercolorado.org to connect families with behavioral health.

“Let’s build on this success,” Polis said. “Good work is already being done, and we have the opportunity to make it available for all Coloradans, especially our youth.”

Republican and Colorado Springs Law Enforcement leaders have taken aim at Polis and State Democrats for bond and sentencing reform. Many saying the reforms led an increased crime rate across the state.

“We are going to make our communities safer by focusing on training and recruiting efforts for police, supporting community policing models, increasing access to mental health services, offering early intervention grants, increasing support for domestic violence victims and making safety improvements in our schools and on our streets,” Polis said.

Polis also highlighted organizations like Gang Rescue and Support Project, which help provide youth with mental health support and interventions.

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Polis ended his address by describing ways to protect the environment and natural spaces across the state. According to Polis, lawmakers must work together to ensure sustainable water access and protect the state’s water rights.

“The state of our state, just like the people of Colorado, is strong, it is steadfast, and in spite of everything, we are boldly moving forward.”

GOV. JARED POLIS

You can watch the full address here.

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