As groups reflect on the 2018 legislative session and look ahead to 2019, middle class economic security takes center-stage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Felicia Griffin, Executive Director, United for a New Economy (UNE) – 
[email protected] – 720-626-5746


Following the end of Colorado’s 2018 legislative session, organizations representing a diverse range of communities across the state launched a new initiative highlighting successes and next steps for a number of key initiatives aimed at boosting prosperity for hard-working Coloradans.

The project, called “The Colorado Way of Life: Building an Economic Agenda for Colorado’s Prosperity” highlights a number of common-sense pocketbook policies considered by the General Assembly during the 2018 legislative session that were aimed at improving the lives of Colorado families. While a few of the initiatives passed, many of the  priority measures did not make it through to the Governor’s desk.

“Colorado is booming right now, but unfortunately, not everyone is sharing in our state’s prosperity,” said Felicia Griffin, executive director of United For A New Economy. “Even as our state grows at a record pace, people are experiencing stagnant wages; they’re struggling with access to safe, affordable housing; they’re having a hard time keeping up with the soaring cost of health insurance. This project is a way to highlight common-sense measures we can take to make sure all Coloradans share in our state’s growth.”

Issues in focus in the agenda include measures addressing wage stagnation; the high cost of health and childcare; access to housing that middle class and working families can afford; and basic supports for middle class families like access to affordable retirement savings plans and paid family and medical leave.

“Most businesses would love to offer paid family medical leave to our employees, but for small businesses like mine, it can be cost prohibitive,” said Katharine Knarreborg, Vice President of Merlin Instrument Company in Littleton. “Having employees share the cost ensures that my staff can take time off to care for their families, take their kids to the doctor, or deal with an emergency without coming into work sick or having to choose between work and their family. This is the type of policy that would make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The project highlights both successes and failures from the most recent legislative session and ensures economic policies that put people first remain key priorities for lawmakers in 2019.

“Working families are the engines of our economy,” said Mike Kromrey, executive director of Together Colorado. “But even today, I hear almost daily about the struggles that hardworking families face, even in this roaring economy. It’s the high cost of childcare.It’s that after 20 or 30 years in the workforce, Colorado workers don’t have a retirement plan or savings for life’s emergencies. It’s that most families are still just one flat tire, one unexpected illness, or one injury away from financial insecurity.  We can do more – we must do more – to support Colorado’s working families in 2019.”

The online project, which includes a website and video featuring everyday Coloradans, focuses on finding solutions for challenging issues ranging from the high cost of housing and health care to paid family and medical leave.

The squeeze on Colorado families:

  1. Average weekly wages have only risen $33 over the last 17 years in Colorado (Source)
  2. A household must make $21.97 to afford rent and utilities in Colorado, but the average renter wage is only $17.13 (Source)
  3. Nearly half of all Colorado renters are cost burdened, with an additional 24 percent severely cost burdened (Source)
  4. The United States remains the only major developed nation in the world without a paid family leave policy. Nearly 1 in 4 new mothers return to work after only 2 weeks because they cannot afford to go without a paycheck (Source)
  5. People living in 14 rural counties in Colorado have a single health insurance carrier to buy insurance from (Source). And statewide, health insurance premiums soared almost 30% this year (Source)
  6. Nearly half of Colorado’s private-sector workers — over 750,000 people in their prime working years — have no retirement savings plan at work (Source)
  7. Colorado has the 7th highest childcare costs in the nation; it costs families more than $13,000 for infant care, and $9,600 for 4-year-old care. In fact, infant care costs 59% more annually than in-state tuition at a 4-year college in Colorado (Source)

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