In March, I had the honor of meeting Autumn Rivera, a sixth grade science teacher at Glenwood Springs Middle School and the 2022 Colorado Teacher of the Year. I asked him why he decided to become a teacher. He was so proud as he shared story after story about the difference his students made in the community – like making money to protect Sweetwater Lake – and the tireless support of his fellow teachers.
During our conversation, Autumn mentioned something that touched me. He said many of his colleagues work two or three jobs so they can afford to live and teach in Glenwood Springs.
As a former school superintendent, I know we don’t pay our teachers enough (we need to fix that). I also know Autumn’s story — in an economy where people work harder and harder to stay afloat, let alone thrive — has become all too common.
Colorado has one of the most dynamic economies in the country. But everywhere I go in our state, people tell me that they work hard, but no matter what they do, they can’t afford some combination of housing, health care, child care or higher education. They can’t save or afford a middle-class life, and rising costs from gas to groceries to rent are even harder.
Their struggles reflect an economy that over the past 50 years has worked well for the wealthiest Americans, but not well for everyone else.
Since I came to the Senate, I have fought to build an economy that thrives for everyone — not just the people at the top. And, over the past 18 months, we’ve made significant strides toward that goal, although we still have a long way to go.
In the wake of the worst public health crisis in a century, we passed the American Rescue Plan, which provides Western Slope communities with resources to address rising housing costs, fund law enforcement and address the our mental health crisis.
The legislation includes my proposal to expand the Child Tax Credit, which gives working families the biggest tax cut in generations. Last year, nearly every family in Colorado received an average of $450 per month from the credit. It benefits 90% of Colorado, cuts child poverty nearly in half, cuts hunger by a quarter and gives families a lifeline against inflation.
Then, we passed bipartisan infrastructure legislation to fix our roads and bridges, improve our public transit, and help us compete with China. Colorado has begun using funds to repair Interstate 70 – a critical transportation corridor through Colorado. The infrastructure law also takes historic steps in broadband to connect every family, farmer and small business to affordable, high-speed Internet, based on a bipartisan bill I authored on the Western Slope with the help of Delta- Montrose Electric Association.
This summer, we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which addresses several pressing priorities for Colorado. We finally defeated Big Pharma and required Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices for the American people. We cap the price of prescription drugs for Coloradans on Medicare to $2,000 a year and the price of insulin to $35 a month.
And, as climate change continues to wreak havoc on our state, we’re making the largest investments to fight climate change in US history, with historic steps to accelerate clean growth. energy, increase domestic manufacturing for our solar and wind industries, and promote more efficient homes, factories. and transportation.
Between these two bills, I fought to get $10 billion for forest and watershed health. Both laws represent the last steps to address our pressing challenges as a nation and build an economy that grows for everyone, not just those at the top.
The choice in this election is whether we move forward and build on the historic progress we’ve made, or return to the same failed policies.
The next generation of Coloradans expects us to give them a future defined by more opportunity, not less. A future where teachers don’t have to work two or three jobs to live where they work; where families are not drowning in rising costs; Hard work translates into security and dignity; and our economy works for everyone, not just the richest few.
We must move forward. That’s why I’m running for reelection, and I’d be happy to receive your support.