Affordable energy is important to Colorado women. Heating the home through the winter and commuting to work are not optional budget items. When prices go up, there is less left over for everything else. To keep energy affordable, Colorado Women's Alliance supports a balanced approach to energy production.
This balanced approach acknowledges that Colorado cannot rely on a single source of energy. Wind power, for example, provides energy only when there is sufficient wind, kills about half a million birds each year, and requires rare earth mining to build turbines. Hydroelectric power (dams) significantly alters the environment and solar power is expensive to produce. This does not mean that wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy should not be part of Colorado’s energy production, but that they are only part of the solution.
Natural gas is increasingly replacing coal because it is cleaner burning and requires less water than coal to produce. Hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called fracking, has made natural gas more accessible. This decades old technology uses pressurized water to break open shale rocks to release trapped natural gas and oil. Studies show that hydraulic fracturing does not contaminate ground water and has little impact on wildlife and agricultural land. The process is regulated by state and federal laws require companies protect water and air quality.
In supporting a balanced energy policy, Colorado Women's Alliance recognizes that each energy source is important and contributes to the production of affordable energy. Colorado Women's Alliance condemns efforts to demonize energy production with half-truths and empty promises. Clearly, no one form of energy production can produce enough clean energy to keep Colorado powered.
Colorado Women's Alliance believes laws should be judged on their effect, not the good intentions of the lawmakers. A case and point: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, was supposed to make health insurance more accessible and affordable. Instead, it caused 335,500 Coloradans and millions of other Americans to lose their individual health care insurance policies. Thousands more will lose their employer-provided insurance when Obamacare is fully enacted. Many of those who lost their insurance policies now have to buy insurance policies with higher premiums and deductibles to comply with the law. Still others have lost access to their preferred hospitals and doctors. Some Americans have even lost work hours because of the law.
Politicians who voted for the law said that Coloradans could keep their health policies. They did not tell Americans that they’d lose their insurance, their doctors, or their work hours. In fact, most of these politicians said that Americans could keep their health insurance, their doctors, and that the law would help the economy.
Colorado women deserve better. Colorado Women's Alliance supports efforts to repeal this deeply unpopular law and to enact real reform. Obamacare must be replaced with a law that lowers costs and provides greater health care options. Congress should pass a bill to repeal Obamacare, give families the same tax breaks on insurance as corporations, and let Americans shop around across state lines for the policies that meet their needs and budgets. Such a bill would lower health care costs by expanding individual choice, institute malpractice reforms and cut costly regulations.
Colorado Women's Alliance recognizes that even a great school isn’t great for every child. Every child is different. One student thrives in a large school with plentiful academic, sports and extracurricular activities while another is lost in the crowd and does better at a small, independent school. One student finds purpose in a school with a high tech vocational program while another eagerly learns French at a language immersion charter school. Still another earns credits at an online school at home while she cares for an infant.
The type of school students attend—be it traditional public, public charter, independent, or home based—doesn’t matter so long as it meets their needs and they are learning. After all, good schools are good schools. Great teachers are great teachers no matter where the learning takes place.
In Colorado, parents have options for choosing the right school from among the state’s 1,500 plus traditional public schools and 200 public charter campuses. Charter schools are public schools that are managed independently from the district and select their own curricula, instructional methods, and teachers.
Yet Colorado still has work to do in making sure that all students are getting the skills that they need. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments, 50 percent of Colorado’s 4th graders and 42 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math. Forty percent of 4th graders and 8th graders are proficient in reading. The Colorado Department of Education reports that nearly 77 percent of high school seniors graduate on time.
Clearly some students are doing very well while others are falling through the cracks. Unfortunately, Colorado is not one of the 22 states that provide support for families to select independent schools. Colorado Women's Alliance believes that students should enjoy the full spectrum of school choices—public, private, and home school—so that they can attend the school that best meets their needs.
Almost everyone knows someone who is out of work and struggling. While the government cannot effectively create private sector jobs, it can create an environment where businesses large and small flourish. A thriving economy is especially important for women seeking jobs to provide for themselves and their families. Twice as many women as men have had to resort to food stamps. Women want to be working and independent.
The government can, just as easily, create a climate where economic activity declines. When the government raises taxes or over regulates (or merely threatens to do these things), businesses do not hire new employees or bring new services and products to market. They may even have to let good employees go to meet these higher costs. Worse comes to worst, they pack up and leave the state or even the country to find a more hospitable place to do business. Conversely, when the government reduces taxes and regulations to commonsense levels, businesses expand and create jobs.
The Tax Foundation calculates how many months Americans must work to pay off their federal, state, and local taxes. For Coloradoans, the day that they finishing paying off their taxes—Tax Freedom Day—is April 22. Our state neighbors have comparatively lower tax burdens. The Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index, which accounts for corporate taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, individual income taxes, sales taxes, and taxes on residential and commercial property, ranks Colorado 19th in the nation.
Americans carry an even heavier burden when you add the cost of regulations to that of taxes. Federal regulations alone cost $1.1 trillion according to economist W. Mark Crain. Imagine what would happen if a fraction of these regulations were removed. Imagine what would happen if the government lowered taxes on businesses. Most economists agree that these steps would energize the economy and create jobs. Unlike the failed, government- spending “stimulus” programs of the past two administrations, real reform would have a lasting positive effect of job creation.
Some politicians want to see more government intrusion into the economy and independent businesses ostensibly to erase the “pay gap” between men and women. They say that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns and that the difference is due to intentional discrimination. If this were true, why aren’t women walking off the job in droves? The 77 cents on the dollar figure does not paint an accurate picture.
A 2009 Labor Department study found the wage gap between men and women is between 4.8 and 7 cents when individual choices are taken into consideration. What are the choices? The college major one pursues, the type of occupation one chooses, and whether one takes time off to care for children, make a difference in salaries and lifetime earnings. Full time male employees also tend to work 8-10% more hours than full time female employees and are generally more aggressive in salary negotiations.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any sexist employers. Fortunately, the Equal Pay Act provides remedies for women in those discriminatory situations. Additional government action is unlikely to increase women’s pay but could eliminate workplace flexibility.
Colorado Women's Alliance will continue to oppose more regulations and higher taxes, because we know that unnecessary government interference negatively impacts women’s choices. The choice to open a business in a vibrant economy, the choice to work part time while raising children, and the choice to pursue one’s dreams in a free country must be preserved.