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The 20-member Colorado Senate Democratic Caucus, which holds a legislative majority, were no sooner back at the Colorado Capitol on Tuesday than they announced a legislative agenda focused on restoring Coloradans after a year of devastation and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

They outlined an agenda for the 2021 legislative session, focusing on responding to the urgent needs of Coloradans, revitalizing the economy, restoring communities to pre-pandemic health, and reimagining Colorado’s future so that all residents have an opportunity to succeed.

Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia (D- Pueblo)

“We come ready and willing to not just recover from this pandemic and the civil discord that has gripped our nation – but build back a stronger, more just Colorado. Like the trials of previous generations, this pandemic has and will make us stronger, but it will also make us more connected, more human. Not because such a conclusion is a given but because we can choose to alchemize pain into purpose,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) in his opening day remarks.

“Together, we will turn the page of this disaster to one of replenishment and renewal. We will eliminate the threat of this virus, revitalize our economy, and restore our community pillars so we can ensure that every Coloradan has the chance to thrive.”

After 11 months of challenges resulting from the profound impacts of COVID-19 on the state and the country,  Senate Democrats say they are determined to find common ground with colleagues across the aisle, to work to combat systems of inequality, and deliver results to struggling communities. They outlined their first priorities to provide immediate relief, before moving forward on what they call “a path of recovery and reform”:

RESPONDING TO THE PANDEMIC: Direct relief to struggling businesses and families, building on the progress made in the brief and extraordinary session in January. With a new administration in office at the national level, they plan to direct any potential federal funds to programs most in need. They say they commit to working in a bipartisan manner and considering any and all ideas that get the state past this pandemic.

RESTORING COMMUNITY PILLARS AND REVITALIZING OUR ECONOMY: Solutions that restore and revitalize communities to pre-pandemic health. Critical initiatives and institutions like Medicaid and public schools have suffered devastating funding losses, while the job market has been severely damaged. Senate Democrats say they are “committed to reviving Colorado’s economy and replenishing public programs in order to heal the wounds caused by the pandemic and create the Colorado comeback through school investment, corporate tax reform, job creation, and economic stimulus”.

REIMAGINING OUR FUTURE: Believing that returning to “normal” is not good enough and that reimagining a future where regular people can thrive is a top priority, Senate Democrats say they want to reinforce an economy “that works for everyone”.  That, they say means ensuring access to affordable healthcare, and including programs “that preserve our planet for generations to come.”

“We need to triage the most urgent needs of our residents and then work to rebuild our foundations and redesign our future in a prosperous and equitable way,” said Garcia. “Returning to the status quo is unacceptable. Too many Coloradans have been overburdened and under-rewarded in a system that siphons work by the many to create power for the few. Bank accounts of the wealthy and bottom lines of the largest corporations do not illustrate the prosperity of our state. We need to use this pandemic to create structural economic change that puts people first.”

Featured image: Colorado State Capitol. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.