You can learn a lot about a governor’s priorities by observing the legislation he supports and signs into law.
In the case of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, it’s obvious that he supports making education affordable and beneficial for all, reducing health care costs for both workers and employers, and keeping Colorado firmly on its path toward a sustainable energy future.
On May 6, Gov. Polis joined Senate President Leroy Garcia and Speaker K.C. Becker to celebrate the major accomplishments of the 2019 legislative session in Colorado. Among them:
Other bold steps were taken, but Polis left little doubt that he intends to keep fighting to make Colorado more affordable and more hospitable for people and the companies that employ them. In a recent interview, he commented on these initiatives and why he is pursuing them.
Education has always been one of your top priorities, and this year you made sure that public colleges and universities in Colorado will keep tuition flat for the coming year. Why is that an important milestone?
GOV. JARED POLIS: I am very excited about that. We need to do more to reduce the cost of higher education. We are also doing free all-day kindergarten. Our real goal is to make all forms of quality education affordable at every stage of life in Colorado.
To help companies and their workers keep health care costs under control, you established a reinsurance pool to reduce premiums and reduced out-of-pocket costs for individuals this year. How will these steps help Colorado employers compete?
POLIS: Reinsurance will lower health-care premiums as much as 25 percent in Colorado. We also passed systemic reforms to reduce health-care costs. We are making hospital pricing transparent, for example. We are looking at all great ideas from the right and the left.
What is Colorado doing to move closer to its goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040?
POLIS: We are making historic progress on energy and climate issues. We enacted major Public Utilities Commission reform. This will save all Colorado ratepayers money with clean renewable energy, and we extended the electric vehicle tax credit.
What is Colorado doing to make sure that its transportation infrastructure is globally competitive?
POLIS: We have the No. 1-ranked airport in North America and the No. 7 in the world in Denver. We are investing to make it even better with multi-modal access. We are pushing forward with legislation to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles too.
Boulder recently ranked fourth among all cities in the nation with the most STEM jobs. What is your state doing to increase STEM education and ultimately STEM job employment in Colorado?
POLIS: We are deploying a number of strategies, including upscaling our many mid-career workers. We are focused on increasing concurrent enrollment opportunities for students while they are still in high school to make it even easier and more affordable for them to transfer to two-year and four-year colleges after graduation. And we are working with large employers in Colorado to make sure we are proving the STEM training they need for their workforce.
Colorado ranks No. 8 in the nation in total solar energy jobs. What is your state doing to increase adoption of solar technology and ultimately solar energy deployment?
POLIS: We are blessed with a lot of sunshine in Colorado. We are looking to make solar less expensive. We have a Colorado energy efficiency program that rewards solar adoption.
What did you learn from founding ProFlowers and other successful ventures in the private sector that you are now able to apply to your job as Governor?
POLIS: It’s given me a valuable perspective on the importance of entrepreneurship. I believe we must innovate a disruptive model to improve our quality of life, and we must empower our private sector if we are going to accomplish that.