Statement: Policy Priorities for Colorado’s Pandemic Response and Recovery

Contact: Tara Manthey
Title: Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Communications and Development
Phone: 720-256-1312
Email: tara@coloradokids.org

Statement: Policy Priorities for Colorado’s Pandemic Response and Recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 12th, 2020

DENVER—This morning we learned that Colorado’s public budget went from flush a few months ago to a $3.3 billion deficit that will surely impact children and families. We stand ready to support state leaders facing the enormous challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic and our eventual recovery, and we will be vocal and firm in our resolve that children and families must be prioritized at every step.

Colorado has an opportunity to learn from previous economic downturns. The Great Recession saw more than 40,000 additional Colorado children fall into poverty, and it took our state’s child poverty rate five years to recover to its pre-recession level.

Think for a moment about what five years means in the life of a child.

  • That’s the entire span of the critical early years when they are building their brains and learning social-emotional skills.
  • That’s a whole elementary school education, when they are learning to read and master the basics of math, science, art and more.
  • It is a lifetime in the world of tweens and teens–when entire second languages are learned, advanced reasoning skills are built, career and college paths begin, and much more.

As we face a massive economic crisis, we can look back on lessons from past downturns to ensure kids get what they need right now. That looks like prioritizing kids’ health, education and safety in public budgets, but it also means making sure families have that basic economic security while parents are out of work.

As legislators return to work and face heart-breaking budget decisions, we urge them to prioritize these critical areas to ensure Colorado children and families are as supported and stable as possible: 

Family Economic Security  

  • Increase Basic Cash Assistance for Families on TANF to help weather the immediate effects of the crisis. Legislators should amend SB20-029 to provide an immediate cash payment using existing federal funds.
  • Expand the Earned-Income Tax Credit and fund the Child Tax Credit by accessing federal relief funds to expand and fund these tax credits, and then continue long-term funding of the state EITC and CTC by closing a tax loophole that disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
  •  Protect our state’s innovative child support pass-through policy to allow the full amount of child support payments to go directly to children and families who receive TANF basic cash assistance.
  • Protect funding for Family Resource Centers as families struggle to make ends meet and provide for the needs of their children.

Early Childhood 

  • Support the early childhood workforce to ensure Colorado’s working parents can get back to work. Legislators should HB20-1006 and HB20-1053 to focus on educator retention and implement important policies that support mental health issues at time.
  • Protect funding for infants and toddlers in the Early Intervention program to ensure that children with developmental delays are not denied services.

Health

  • Establish a Colorado Health Care Affordability Fund to capture fees already being paid by insurance carriers and direct them where they’ll do the most good for Colorado consumers, insurance carriers and our health care system.
  • Protect the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+).
  • Protect dental services for pregnant people in Medicaid.
  • Protect funding for the family planning program.

Education 

  • Adjust school finance formula factors as a targeted solution instead of resorting to across the board cuts through the budget stabilization factor. In doing so, legislators should protect targeted investments in our students and communities experiencing the most barriers to opportunity and support communities that perpetually struggle to find adequate funding to meet student needs because of low property wealth and/or inability to raise local funds through mill levy overrides or local public school foundations.
  • Continue the state’s investment in preschool and full-day kindergarten, rather than passing the costs on to parents who are dealing with financial insecurity, so that parents can get back to work and ensure children do not suffer additional learning loss.
  • Preserve Smart Start (Breakfast after the Bell) and recent expansions of the Child Nutrition Lunch Protection Act to prevent additional food insecurity for children and families.

Balance cuts with new revenue  

Employ TABOR’s emergency tax provision to give a majority of working Coloradans a tax cut and increase rates on the highest income earners to generate new revenue.

Equity-focused solutions 

Seize the opportunity during rebuilding to renovate our public systems to remove barriers to health, education, economic security and safety for those who’ve faced the most obstacles.

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About Colorado Children's Campaign


The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tara Manthey at 720-256-1312 or email Tara at tara@coloradokids.org.