November 27, 2009
You can’t blame them, really. I mean the promise of having the public and the taxpayers assume all of the risk while they retain all of the private profit. What’s not to like?
Historically, developers sought financing for building projects like everyone else — by saving, putting money down and qualifying for financing through investors, banks or financial institutions. That is so passe.
Today’s developer (at least Lend Lease) not only wants, but expects — in fact demands — either special district funding (through your property taxes), TIF funding (your taxes), and / or public tax dollar incentives.
The Denver Post ran an excellent article today, written by Carlos Illescas, Developer Seeks $90 Million in Tax Breaks for Huge Aurora Project. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13875492.
The scheme goes something like this:
- they demand “incentive money” from our school district; along with
- tax-increment financing for their project from the city;
- “blight” the area by E-470 & I-70;
- the school district willingly pays the money; because
- the state has to “back-fill” it.
NEWSFLASH! The state is BROKE. We will already be making billions of cuts into essential services to the people of Colorado. This is an irresponsible expenditure of taxpayer money and is a coercive financing model.
The development would include 3,800 homes and 1.3 million square feet of retail and in case anyone hasn’t notice Aurora’s commercial vacancy rate is approximately 13% and we have a plethora of vacant, unsold and vacant homes already in Aurora. Adding a school and library building into the mix hardly turns this into a public project. The benevolent distraction of a building a school dissolves when one realizes that we will be paying it back anyway. And a building doesn’t teach kids. A building without teachers or books is just a building. And if the state is forced to backfill millions to private developers we will have less money for teachers, K12, higher ed, senior services, law enforcement, driver’s license offices, etc.
This concept is not just offensive but would have devastating consequences to the entire State of Colorado. Then ask what if every developer and school district did this?
The State General Fund is only $7.68 Billion which per capita is one of the lowest in the nation. Now imagine you are the one who will need to find $3 billion in cuts in an already brutalized funding scheme and ask yourself — of all of the different needs competing for our limited dollars, where does back-filling millions of dollars in funding for one private Australian Developer fit in?
Nowhere, I hope.
November 25, 2009
We recently were privileged to host a townhall pertaining to Veterans issues with guest panelists:
Bill Holen, Congressman Perlmutter's Office
Chaplain Andy Meverden
Artie Guerrero, United Veterans Committee
Lt. Col. Timothy Conklin, Commander 140th Air Co Air Guard, Buckley AFB
Bill Conroy, Director, CO Div Veterans & Military Affairs.
- Many veterans are entitled to benefits they aren't receiving because they don't know about them.
- If you or someone you know are a veteran please make sure you are receiving the benefits that you have earned in service to our country.
- If you need help with the VA, disability benefits or other federal benefits including retirement, GI Bill, burial benefits, Tri Care, housing loans you should contact your member of U.S. Congress as a constituent.
- Find out if you are eligible for the Colorado Military Family Relief Fund. http://www.dmva.state.co.us/page/mfr
- Learn about many Colorado Veterans benefits like housing program, financial assistance, employment and education benefits and more. http://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/colorado-state-veterans-benefits
- The American Legion, VFW and other service organizations provides community service and support to veterans. http://www.legion.org/veterans
- Are you a disabled veteran? The Disabled American Veterans is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building better lives for America's disabled veterans. http://www.dav.org/
- Veterans Green Jobs is an organization focused on empowering veterans to restore our environment, economy, and communities. http://veteransgreenjobs.org/
- Volunteers of America provides temporary housing for women veterans who are experiencing domestic abuse, facing homelessness, or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or military sexual trauma.
Are you a veteran looking for a job? Don't miss the job fair hosted by Hire Vets First. It will be held on December 9, 2009 from 10am to 2:30pm at the Police Protective Assocation at 2105 Decatur Street in Denver. The event and parking are free, the location is RTD accessible, and there will be more than 46 employers present.
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
- Donate, support, and connect with veterans. http://www.supportourtroops.org/
- Send a care package to a soldier, veteran, or a family member of a fallen soldier. http://www.skipcares.org/carepackages/
- Do you knit or crochet? Warmth for Warriors is a volunteer organization that provides handmade hats and other comfort items. http://warmthforwarriors.com/
- Say thank you. Write letters to our dedicated servicemen and women. Make sure every soldier's name is heard at mail call. http://tellthemthanks.com/
November 24, 2009
I want to take a moment to just reflect on grateful I am to my friends, family and loved ones. I also want to thank Aurora for the amazing opportunity to represent our city, first in the house, then in the city. I am lucky. I have a job that lets me work on issues that I find meaningful and try to help people who need it.
Colorado resources for Coloradans needing support.
Dial 2-1-1 Colorado provides a direct link to non-emergency help for people seeking health and human services. It is both a database of nonprofits and a referral system to services like transportation, food banks, healthcare clinics and shelters. Calls are free and confidential.
Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) provides health insurance coverage for low-income children (18 years of age and younger) and pregnant women (19 years of age and older) to Colorado residents.
Colorado Foreclosure Hotline connects homeowners in some state of delinquency or foreclosure with local housing counseling agencies for free assistance.
Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides financial assistance to low-income families that are working, searching for employment or are in training, and families that are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. The CCCAP is administered through county departments of social services.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) helps low income individuals and families pay their utility bills.
Colorado Department of Human Services: a clearinghouse of information on state services sorted by agency, by need, or even by county. Services include Medicaid and Medicare, food and childcare assistance, welfare, alcohol and drug abuse, foster care, housing, and many others.
Colorado Office of Unemployment offers a wealth of information on how to file a claim, eligibility requirements, the appeal process, and more.
Colorado Legal Services provides self-help legal information for civil matters, where to find no- or low-cost legal help, court information, and more. There are offices statewide.
Colorado Food Stamps Program assists low-income individuals and families by helping them purchase food. Applicants should contact their county department of human services.
Colorado Workforce is a job placement web site built specifically to place people with employers throughout the state of Colorado. Colorado Workforce offers job listings, computer and internet access, career counseling and training, and more. There are workforce centers all across the state.
College Invest is a not-for-profit division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. They focus on providing expert information, simple planning tools, scholarships, savings plan, and low-cost student and parent loans.
Meals on Wheels is a national, nonprofit organization providing training and grants to programs that provide food to older people, and those who are frail, disabled, at-risk, or homebound. They have a website search feature to look for services in your area.
For more information and resources, check out the Citizens' Advocate Corps. http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1232523540283&ssbinary=true
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Find a volunteer opportunity in your community.
Mile High United Way: Believe that together we can build a better community and make a difference. http://www.unitedwaydenver.org/site/c.rwL8KjNULrH/b.3758605/k.B9CD/Denver_Colorado_Nonprofit_Organization__Mile_High_United_Way.htm
Volunteer Match connects good people and good causes with over 70,000 nonprofits listing volunteer opportunities.
Metro Volunteers: Change yourself, change the world.
November 20, 2009
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced today that Colorado's unemployment rate has decreased for the third month in a row, down to 6.9 percent in October from 7.0 percent in September.
Colorado continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and we're 3.3 points below the national rate of 10.2 percent.
In fact, rates rose in 29 states in October, with 13 states now above the national average, including Michigan at 15.1 percent and Nevada at 13 percent.
While October's numbers are good news for Colorado, families and small businesses are still tightening their belts and making changes to their daily lives and operations. Too many Coloradans are still losing their jobs, healthcare and homes. And everyone is still feeling uncertain about the future.
We have a lot more hard work and tough choices ahead of us, but Governor Ritter's economic development strategy is leading us in the right direction. His initiatives are creating new jobs, assisting small businesses and leading us toward a quicker, stronger and sustainable recovery.
Governor Ritter is building a New Energy Economy that now employs nearly 20,000 people, the fourth-highest concentration of clean-energy workers in America.
Governor Ritter is cutting taxes for 30,000 small businesses, investing in employee training, and reforming the business tax code to encourage economic growth.
A new round of 2009 economic-growth initiatives are:
- Giving small businesses greater access to loans and capital.
- Providing incentives to businesses that create new jobs.
- Generating the first new and sustained funding for transportation construction projects in two decades through the FASTER law.
Governor Ritter's strategies are creating new jobs and attracting national attention:
- Two German energy companies - SMA Solar Technology and SGB Wind - recently announced plans to open their first North American manufacturing facilities in Colorado, creating more than 700 new jobs between them.
- Fox News recently aired a segment, Here Comes the Sun, featuring Colorado's success at creating manufacturing jobs in the clean-energy sector.
- A new report from the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. shows that Colorado has the second-most educated workforce, third-highest rate of venture capital investment and fifth-highest rate of new-company formation.
- Forbes.com and CNBC say Colorado is one of the best states in the country in which to do business, and other experts say we'll be one of the first states to emerge from the downturn because of our diverse economy, our strong base of small businesses, and our emphasis on manufacturing and innovation.
As positive as today's unemployment news is, it's not good enough and we still have a long way to go. But we're making progress and moving forward.
November 17, 2009
COLORADO REMAINS A COMPETITIVE STATE NATIONALLY
Senate Democrats praise Colorado's strengths
DENVER— Today, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released its annual report outlining Colorado's "strengths, challenges, and opportunities for future job growth." This is the 5th year of the study which compares Colorado's position against the 49 other states in the U.S. http://www.metrodenver.org/files/documents/news-center/research-reports/TMCC_V_FullStudy.pdf
Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D- Longmont) commented on the report. "Thanks to our innovative ideas for the last several years, we are leading Colorado toward a speedy recovery, and proving that Colorado is the best place for workers and small businesses. Even though families are struggling right now, and even though this report shows many areas to improve, we will continue to work to build a 21st century workforce in this state."
Senate Majority Leader John Morse (D-Colorado Springs): "This report proves what we already know and what we have been fighting for: we need to support education for our children, the health of our workers, and innovative ways to create jobs, if we want to remain competitive nationally. It's too bad not everyone at the Capital realizes how important these things are to Colorado's recovery and strength."
Highlights of the report:
- No. 1 in highest ACT/SAT scores per 1,000 high school graduates
- Nation's lowest obesity rate
- 2nd in economic outlook
- 2nd for adults with a bachelor's degree or higher
- 3rd in Small Business Innovation Research Grants
- 3rd in venture capital per $1,000 of State Gross Domestic Product
- 4th for Initial Public Offerings
- 4th for cost of doing business (tax burden index)
- 5th in number of new companies created per 1,000 employees
- 5th for annual population growth
- 6th lowest state sales tax rate (5 other states have no sales tax)
- 7th for entrepreneurial activity
- 8th for science and engineering doctorate degrees
- 9th in employment growth
- Ranked 47th for state and local higher education support per full-time student
- Also ranked 47th for student/teacher ratio in public elementary and secondary schools
- Ranked 29th in high school graduation rates
- Eighth-highest for local government share of total tax burden; while Colorado ranks 10th-lowest in state tax revenue per capita
- Gross Domestic Product, a measure of productivity, down from 8th to 12th
- Per capita income down from 8th to 13th
- Export dollars per capita down from 33rd to 45th
According to the report, the underpinnings of a strong economy are based on the following realities:
- Educational attainment is the single-most important element in job and income growth;
- Infrastructure investments are a key element of economic sustainability;
- Innovation and job creation are spawned by research and development;
- Expanding markets give more people greater access to wealth; and
- Healthy workers are more productive and make greater contributions to the State Gross Domestic Product. For example, a worker is 34% more likely to miss work due to obesity-related diseases.
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