In his 2023 “State of the State” address this past Tuesday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis made a point of laying out bold goals for his second term, challenging us to envision what we want Colorado to look like at the end of his term and when the state turns 150 years old; coming up in 2026.
“When Colorado reaches our 150th birthday in 2026, we want to be a place where freedoms are not only protected but expanded, where housing is affordable for every budget, where every kid has access to a quality education, where our water resources support our farms, communities, and industries, where we have lower health care costs and taxes, where workers have access to the skills needed to get a good-paying job that supports them and supports the needs of businesses, and every person lives in a safe community,” said Polis.
He stressed the need for affordable housing solutions, reiterated his vision regarding enhanced educational opportunities for Colorado’s youngest students, committed attention to public safety and Colorado’s Red Flag laws, and reinforced the vision for the state’s clean energy initiatives, as well as our climate goals.
It appears his vision for the future is shared by many of Colorado’s elected officials.
“Governor Polis and I share a commitment to lowering costs for Coloradans, confronting the housing affordability crisis, and fighting climate change and addressing the harmful effects on our state – from drought to mudslides to wildfires,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. I look forward to continuing to work with his administration to deliver for Colorado families.”
Polis announced a major emphasis on housing in the 2023 legislative session. The crisis in housing was addressed not just by Polis, but by all elected officials who weighed in following the address.
“Governor Polis today expressed what we all know to be true: the State of Colorado is strong. In his address, which laid out a bold agenda for the year ahead, the Governor reaffirmed the partnership he’s built with cities all over our great state, based on justice, opportunity and progress as we build a Colorado for all,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “I’m especially encouraged by his dedication to expanding affordable housing statewide, including land and funding resources, and look forward to engagement and partnership with local governments to find solutions.”
“Every Coloradan deserves to be able to afford to live where they desire with dignity, and it’s a challenge that cities cannot tackle on their own. Action on housing is key to achieving many of our State’s goals for climate, water, public health, and transportation,” added Hancock. I also thank the Governor for heeding the call from our states’ mayors to address some of our most pressing public safety challenges, so we can return Colorado to being one of the safest states in the country. We’re proud to continue the collaboration between Denver, Governor Polis’ administration and our state legislators to make the progress we need to make on these statewide issues.”
Among his comments, Polis stressed the need to continue to improve public safety, and indicated that strengthening the state’s Red Flag laws could have more impact than outright gun bans, which would likely get tied up in court suits by gun advocates.
“I’m appreciative of the Governor’s commitment to making Colorado one of the safest states in our nation and his willingness to be collective with subject matter experts in law enforcement to achieve this goal,” said Sheriff Tyler Brown, Arapahoe County and honored guest of the Governor at today’s state of the state address.
Education, especially early childhood education has been at the forefront of Polis’s agenda over the past four years, and with the advent in the 2023-24 schoolyear of free, universal Pre-kindergarten hours, it will continue.
“When I think about Governor Polis, I think about his passion and dedication to early childhood education. I am excited to see the initiative that he and his team have taken to make good on their promises by making preschool and full-day kindergarten free and accessible to all Coloradans,” said Shar Portillo, parent and honored guest of the Governor at today’s state of the state address. “Not only will this benefit my family financially, but I am also confident that my children will have the opportunity to establish a strong pre-academic and social foundation which will benefit them far beyond their preschool years.”
“The Boys & Girls Clubs in Colorado are honored to participate in this year’s State of the State, as well as partner with the Governor’s Office on this important work. The project that the Governor highlighted will help to support thousands of young people across the state. We are grateful for Governor Polis’s prioritization of prevention strategies that will positively impact Colorado’s youth,” said Kaycee Headrick, Chief Executive Officer at Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County, and honored guest of the Governor at today’s state of the state address.
“Access to housing is an economic issue and a top priority for the business community to ensure we have a stable workforce,” said J.J. Amet President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, speaking on behalf of chambers across the state. “We applaud Governor Polis’s commitment to addressing this pressing issue that impacts many facets of the business community.”
“The Colorado Housing Affordability Project (CHAP) was founded to research, educate, and advocate around solutions to Colorado’s housing affordability crisis. Our research has consistently demonstrated that a lack of housing supply—and particularly a supply of our most affordable forms of housing—are one of the primary causes of our state’s current crisis. We need to provide more land for housing construction and need to modify our planning and zoning regulations to legalize more affordable forms of housing, such as duplexes, triplexes, and small multi-family structures. We also need to provide incentives for builders to construct affordable housing. CHAP looks forward to working with Governor Polis and the legislature to realize a vision for more affordable housing across Colorado,” said Brian J. Connolly, the Colorado Housing Affordability Project.
“We applaud the Governor’s focus on housing and transportation in his State of the State. In Boulder, home ownership is beyond the means of more than 60 percent of our residents. The remainder of Colorado isn’t far behind with housing prices skyrocketing,” said President & CEO of the Boulder Chamber John Tayer. “If our businesses want to continue to attract a diverse, competitive workforce, we need innovative solutions that create the kind of housing they can afford.”
Colorado is grappling with dual climate and housing affordability crises, and we look forward to partnering with Governor Polis and the state legislature to develop solutions that tackle both challenges by focusing on housing and job growth in the right places,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.
“Your home is the foundation of your health. The simple fact is that Colorado is suffering from a housing shortage. The number and type of homes available does not match up with what Coloradans need. They should have the opportunity to live in the community where they work, or have a family where they grew up,” said Jake Williams, CEO of Healthier Colorado. “We applaud the Governor for making housing a top priority this legislative session, because we need a forward-thinking solution to building houses that will help solve the housing crisis we’ve been experiencing for decades.”
“Increasing prosperity and opportunity for all Colorado families is our main focus at Centennial State Prosperity, and that includes being able to access a healthy, safe and affordable home,” said Centennial State Prosperity Executive Director Austin Blumenfeld. “Too many Coloradans are struggling to afford housing and our members are thrilled that Governor Polis is taking action to lower housing costs.”