COMMITTEE ON JOINT FINANCE
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11:07 AM -- Public Testimony
The committee began hearing public testimony.
11:07 AM -- Mr. Tom Clarke, representing the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, testified. Mr. Clarke stated he has no comment on the Governor's proposal. He also shared his thoughts about a VAT tax.
Mr. Clarke stated Colorado is going though a transformation, and that manufacturing is creating a path to the middle class. Previously, there were only two paths for middle class, which were in the medical and construction industries. Mr. Clarke stated that all exemptions had a purpose when they were adopted but may appear strange now. He said the biggest tax decrease adopted in Colorado was the Gallagher amendment, which gave individual property owners a large tax benefit.
Mr. Clarke provided comments about alternative energy and income tax policy. He shared his thoughts about single factor corporate tax policies. These are revenue neutral tax policy decisions, he said. He continued sharing his views about tax policy considerations and the potential impacts to Colorado's economy. Mr. Clarke stated that there needs to be a reallocation of resources and investment in higher education. The long-term situation looks less favorable without these investments.
Representative Frangas asked about manufacturing and whether we could compete with China and other nations in this area. Mr. Clarke stated that we will never compete with China on the price of manufacturing solar technologies, but we can compete on innovation. Senator Romer shared his thoughts about asking voters to increase tax revenue and making it a priority to fund higher education, capital construction and other areas. He asked Mr. Clarke how the General Assembly should address capital construction. Mr. Clarke stated that we need a revenue stream for capital construction and that continuing to cut this area is not where we want to go.
The following persons also testified.
11:24 AM -- Ms. Liane Morrison, representing Great Education in Colorado, testified. She introduced Mr. Glen Gustafson, Colorado Springs School District and Ms. Cheryl Wangeman. Mr. Gustafson provided written testimony, which is included as Attachment D. Ms. Wangeman shared her thoughts about the levels of local tax revenue from specific ownership taxes and property taxes.
Mr. Gustafson continued the presentation by discussing Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) issues affecting school districts. He provided information about a survey taken about how school districts will respond to budget issues. The survey included different options for addressing the budget. He stated that school districts would like to see all school districts treated equally.
Senator King asked Mr. Gustafson if the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) would be endorsing the PERA proposal. He stated that at this time, CASE has not taken a position. He expressed his thoughts about PERA benefits.
Mr. Gustafson also discussed benefits and salaries. Senator King asked how many jobs an increase in PERA benefits will cost school districts. Representative Kagan shared his views about the Governor's proposal. Discussion ensued about PERA issues.
11:39 AM -- Mr. Tony Gagilardi, representing the National Federation of Independent Business, testified. He stated that small business are the backbone of the economy, and shared his thoughts about preventing any harm to small businesses. He said everyone must do what is best for the state.
11:41 AM -- Ms. Carol Hedges, representing the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, testified. She shared her thoughts about cutting services and tax policy decisions. She stated the cost of tax favoritism that changes the amount of taxes paid must be weighed against the cost of cutting services. Tax policy changes should be examined with the same level of scrutiny as investments in these services.
11:43 AM -- Mr. Ben Prochazka, representing the Colorado Environment Coalition and Mr. Chris West, representing the Colorado Cattleman's Agriculture Land Trust, testified. Mr. Prochazka stated the conservation easement credit is important for preserving land and that it should be funded at the highest level. Mr. West stated the credit helps to preserve quality of life and is a tool for investment in rural communities.
11:45 AM -- Dr. Tim Byers, representing the Colorado School of Public Health, testified. He shared his views about the Amendment 35 tobacco revenue reductions for health care services and stated that cutting prevention programs will harm more individuals.
11:47 AM -- Mr. Jonah Berger, owner of a small business called the Rhythm Within, testified in support of disabled Colorado citizens and expressed his concerns about the impact of budget cuts on these individuals.
11:48 AM -- Mr. Troy Bredenkamp, representing the Colorado Farm Bureau, testified. He shared his concerns about eliminating sales tax exemptions on agricultural products.
11:50 AM -- Mr. Rich Jones, representing the Bell Policy Center, testified. He stated that the center believes that enterprise zone tax credits need to be restructured. He provided two handouts, including prepared testimony from Mr. Wade Buchanan (Attachment E) and a report prepared by the center on enterprise zones (Attachment F). He expressed his thoughts about putting all tax policies on the table for a review.
11:53 AM -- Mr. Rich Audsley, representing the United Way of Colorado, and Mr. John Arigoni, representing the Boy and Girl Clubs of Colorado, testified. They expressed their thoughts about the importance of the child care contribution tax credit. Mr. Audsley distributed a handout which is included as Attachment G.
11:56 AM -- Ms. Karen Wick, representing the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and Mr. Bruce Caughey, representing the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), testified. Ms. Wick stated the public education system is an economic investment and that the full impact of any reduction in public services should be examined. Mr. Caughey stated that school districts are facing more significant cuts than is understood.
11:59 AM -- Ms. Cody Belzley, representing the Colorado Children's Campaign, testified. She expressed her support for programs that provide support to children, and stated these programs help to create a stronger future for our children.
12:02 PM -- Mr. John Hummel, representing himself, testified. He shared his concerns about the impacts of budget cuts to the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), where he works as a state employee. He shared his experiences as a civil rights investigator for the department and explained that caseloads are increasing.
12:04 PM -- Ms. Lori Smith, representing herself, testified. She shared her experiences as a state employee at a correctional facility in Limon, Colorado. She stated her department is the largest employer in the area and shared her concerns about the impact of potential cuts.
12:05 PM -- Ms. Ann Flores, representing herself, testified. She shared her experiences working in the health department at Pueblo Community College and urged the committee to consider the impact of reducing any additional funding.
12:06 PM -- Mr. Joe White, representing himself, testified. He shared his experiences as a teacher and parent of two school age children. Mr. White also shared his concerns about cutting school programs and removing teachers from the classroom. He also expressed his support for investing in higher education.
12:08 PM -- Ms. Carol Adams, representing herself, testified. She shared her experiences as a teacher in public education and stated that public education is the cornerstone of Colorado's society. Education helps to remove gap between the educated and less educated in society.
12:09 PM -- Dr. Elinor Christiansen, representing herself, testified. She provided a handout to the committee about a single-payer health care system, which is included as Attachment H. As a former physician, she shared her support at looking at how the state can spend health care dollars more effectively. Ms. Christiansen urged the committee to examine publicly funded comprehensive health care and the potential benefits to society.
12:10 PM -- Ms. Gerrie Frohne, representing herself, testified. She stated the state should not cut the provider rates for Medicaid and shared her experience as a parent of an ill child. She said it saves Colorado taxpayers money when citizens receive proper care and expressed her concerns about the Governor's proposal regarding provider rates.
12:13 PM -- Mr. David Myers, representing the Metro Community Provider Network, testified. He shared his concerns about the impact of budget cuts on the health care safety net. He stated his organization has closed three clinics and lost two physicians. Of the citizens that use these safety net services, 60 percent are uninsured. He stated any additional cuts will dramatically affect these services.
In addition, the Colorado Community Health Network prepared written testimony, which was submitted for the record (Attachment I).
Public testimony was closed. The committee adjourned.