Jobs & Economic Growth – When every person seeking work can find a job that pays a living wage, our economy will have fully recovered.
Colorado is fortunate that our economy is doing better than most other states – our state’s unemployment rate is below 5% and Colorado is consistently rated one of the best states in which to do business by industry publications. However, the economic recovery has not reached everyone equally. I support ongoing investment in education and job training programs so that Aurorans and all Coloradans can compete aggressively for the increasing number of jobs that require advanced skills.
Government Transparency & Accountability – All citizens – regardless of political affiliation – have the right to expect their government to operate in an open, efficient and transparent manner.
State government provides important services like funding education, administering social support services, keeping roads and transit infrastructure in good repair, and keeping workplaces safe and our environment clean and healthy. But our state must do whatever it does efficiently, on time, and on-budget (or better, under-budget). Colorado’s Transparency Online Project at http://tops.state.co.us provides a window into the state’s finances, and anyone can follow the state budget process each year via the Colorado General Assembly’s web site at http://www.leg.state.co.us.
I will not accept gifts or perks from lobbyists or others seeking to influence the political process. Coloradans have the right to expect that their public servants will always work for the public good without risk of conflict of interest.
Government Accessibility – People should have direct and timely access to their elected officials.
For several years, many of Arapahoe county’s state senators and representatives have hosted public meetings several times each month in and near Aurora to take questions from constituents and to give updates on what is going on at the state legislature. If elected I am committed to continuing this tradition.
If you want to let me know what you think about any issue, or ask me what I think, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 720-432-3850. You can also follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/mike4rep, on Twitter @mjweissman, or on Instagram at instagram.com/mjweissman.
Fiscal Responsibility – Colorado must manage its budget – our tax dollars – responsibly.
Colorado’s state constitution requires a balanced budget every year. Unlike Washington, D.C. and like most people and families, Colorado may only spend what it takes in a given year. I support using Colorado’s limited budget dollars to benefit our community’s and our state’s residents as broadly as possible – through things like investments in K-12 and higher education and basic healthcare services. I will oppose attempts by influential special interests to win large public subsidies or favorable tax treatment. Responsible individuals pay their fair share of taxes without special exemptions and it’s only fair that Colorado’s businesses do so as well.
K-12 Education – Providing high-quality public education to all citizens regardless of what town or city you live in should be one of the basic goals of our state.
Education is both the foundation of active citizenship and economic success later in life. Unfortunately Colorado ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in terms of per-student investment in K-12 education. I support increased funding to K-12 education that so that students can benefit from up-to-date books and other instructional materials and so that schools can hire enough teachers to keep class sizes reasonable. Setting goals for both teachers and students is important but measuring progress toward those goals with excessive standardized testing that takes time away from teaching and learning is the wrong approach.
Higher Education – The opportunity to pursue college degree or advanced technical training should be available and affordable for all Coloradans.
Education has long been a key to opening doors and increasingly an advanced degree is the gateway to better-paying jobs. But unfortunately Colorado ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in per-student investment in higher education (as well in K-12 education), with students and families being forced to make up the difference. Cumulative student debt in the United States now exceeds $1 trillion; this is a burden on millions of current and former students, a barrier for millions of would-be students, and a drag on our economy.
Fortunately Colorado allows “Concurrent Enrollment,” through which high school students to earn a two-year associates degree or pursue a technical training program at the same time as they are earning their high school diploma. (Read more about these programs at http://www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/concurrentenrollment). In the most recent year for which data is available, 19,000 students statewide, including more than 3,000 at the Community College of Aurora, took advantage of concurrent enrollment. In addition, Colorado’s “guaranteed transfer” makes it possible in most cases to transfer credits earned in a two-year degree program at a public college or university in Colorado to a four-year degree program. Especially when combined with Concurrent Enrollment, this makes it possible to earn a four-year degree in less time and at less cost. (Read more about guaranteed transfer at http://highered.colorado.gov/Academics/Transfers/Students.html).
I support creative programs like these to allow Colorado students to get the education they want and the job skills they need while keeping student debt to a minimum, and I support attempts to make sure all students know about and can take advantage of these opportunities.
Environment & Quality of Life – It is a privilege to live in Colorado. Coloradans 50 and 100 years from now should have the same opportunities to enjoy our outdoors as we do today.
I strongly support keeping our beautiful state safe and livable for current as well as future generations. Keeping Colorado’s environment clean makes economic sense too. According to the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado alone is home to about 12% of all outdoor recreation companies nationwide and outdoor recreation creates over 100,000 jobs and $10 billion in economic activity in Colorado. Our mountains, canyons, rivers and forests are known beyond as well as within Colorado as amazing places to hike, camp, hunt, fish or float, and we should keep it that way.
Military & Veterans – Those who put their lives on the line in our armed services have earned the support of both state and federal government for health care, educational and job training opportunities, housing and benefit assistance.
Buckley Air Force Base is within District 36 and is a major employer within Aurora. More than 10,000 people work at Buckley and many tens of thousands of Buckley retirees live in the Aurora area. Buckley’s economic contribution to the local economy was more than $800 million in 2014.
I support programs like Colorado’s Military Family Relief Fund, which offers financial assistance to families of service members suffering financial hardship (learn more about the Military Family Relief Fund here: http://www.checkoffcolorado.com/funds/militaryFamily.php).
Immigration – our immigration system is broken and badly needs comprehensive reform. A system that keeps applicants waiting and families separated for years is no system at all.
For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, America was the promised land to the oppressed and dispossessed citizens of other nations. But in the 21st century our immigration system has become politicized and bogged down, withholding opportunity from those who need it most and severing family ties.
This is not who we as a nation have been, and it is not who we should be today. Nearly all Americans and all Coloradans are the descendants of people who immigrated to the United States at some point in our history. Now as in the first days of our country’s history, people come to the United States from other parts of the world to seek greater opportunity for themselves and their children – often while fleeing extreme poverty or oppression.
Aurora in particular is a community of immigrants – 133 different languages are spoken by students who attend Aurora Public Schools.
Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” on the base of the Statue of Liberty celebrates the “lamp beside the golden door” that was Ellis Island. But until the United States Congress gets serious about fixing our immigration policy, millions of people will unfortunately remain in the shadows.
Home Owner’s Associations – Coloradans have the right to live in their homes without undue interference from a homeowner’s association.
Many, even most, residents of HD 36 live within an HOA – a homeowner’s association. There are more than 300 HOAs in Aurora (out of more than 8,500 statewide), according to data from the State of Colorado. Although these associations can provide useful services like grounds maintenance, some HOAs do not operate transparently, leading homeowners to have extremely negative experiences. Over the years I have attended many community meetings on different subjects in Aurora and I’ve never witnessed larger crowds than when the topic was HOAs.
In the last ten or so years the Colorado legislature has created some new protections for homeowners, such as preventing an HOA from interfering with the First Amendment rights to display an American flag or a political sign or from interfering with your rights as a property owner to landscape your home in a certain way. Since 2010, Colorado has an “HOA Information and Resource Center” that can be a useful resource for some HOA-related issues (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/hoa-information-and-resource-center).
I support the rights of homeowners to use and enjoy their property without undue interference from HOAs. Like any governmental or quasi-governmental entity acting under color of law, HOAs must act responsibly.