Jobs and the Economy
Several years since the economic crisis of 2008, Colorado families and small businesses are still struggling to regain their footing. Now more than ever, our government’s top priority must be to promote job creation and build a more robust economy. We all know that the private sector drives job growth, but government should do everything in its power to create the environment that allows businesses to expand. As your senator, my primary goal is to do everything I can to put the right policies in place to ensure Coloradans have the tools they need to succeed.
I believe Colorado’s economic success stories should be models for the nation. When I came to the Senate in 2009, I immediately launched my Colorado Workforce Tour and traveled the state to speak with workers, learn from their experiences and take their good ideas back to Washington. A focus of my conversations during the tour was that hallmark of American business: innovation. While there is no question that Coloradans are hurting as a result of global economic conditions, our state's economy is stronger than many others, thanks in part to our diverse, high-tech, innovative and entrepreneurial workforce.
Our strengths in fields like bioscience, aerospace, clean technology and information technology have translated directly into good-paying jobs for Coloradans and business investment in the state.
For example, Colorado's clean-technology sector – those businesses that focus on developing technologies for the renewable energy and energy efficiency markets – grew at a rapid pace of 37 percent between 2007 and 2012. Colorado’s aerospace economy is the second largest in the nation, providing more than 65,000 workers across private, civil and military sectors with good-paying jobs. And Colorado is also home to an impressive array of bioscience research institutions and over 600 bioscience companies that are fostering entrepreneurial activity and biomedical breakthroughs.
We must encourage this type of groundbreaking work to continue. Supporting innovation means creating the right conditions for American entrepreneurship and job creation, and allowing American workers and businesses to reach their full potential. This means restructuring the tax code to make it simpler and more supportive of innovation.
For more information about where I stand on these topics and what I'm working on, see the Taxes, Fiscal Responsibility and Bridging the Partisan Divide sections of my website.
We also need to encourage people with great innovative ideas, no matter where they were born, to develop those ideas right here in America. To that end, I joined with Senator Flake, a Republican from Arizona, to reintroduce the bipartisan StartUp Visa Act. This common sense bill, which was strongly endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will help create U.S. jobs by encouraging foreign entrepreneurs – specifically, foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities and lawful immigrants already in the country as professional H-1B workers – to start businesses in the United States.
Among other things, supporting innovation also means investing in science and technology to keep Colorado and the nation on the cutting edge. It also means training the next generation for the jobs of the future. A well-educated workforce with the skills necessary to innovate and lead is the greatest asset we can have and will be the foundation for American success in the 21st century.
For more information about where I stand on science, technology and education — especially the critical “STEM” fields — and what I'm working on, see the Science and Technology and Education sections of my website.
Yet until we get our federal budget under control and rein in our structural deficits and long-term debt, both the private and public funding needed to invest in our future will always be in doubt. I believe that one of the most productive ways Congress can help spur economic growth is by demanding good government initiatives and implementing a responsible, comprehensive plan for fiscal reform. That’s why I have introduced an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require the federal government to balance its budget each and every year. It’s also why we need to pass comprehensive reforms similar to those recommended by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission. While I don't agree with all of its recommendations, the Bowles-Simpson Commission’s report is a serious, common sense plan that would reduce our long-term debt and deficits, and Congress should use it as a starting point to producing its own deficit reduction plan.
For more information, I invite you to visit my Fiscal Responsibility page to find out about my efforts to address our growing national debt.
As we continue down the path of economic recovery, I’ll keep working with my colleagues in both parties to ensure the government is fighting for Colorado families and small businesses, not Wall Street special interests. Now is a time when we must put partisanship and other differences behind us and work for the good of all Americans.
Amtrak's long-distance train service links rural communities in Colorado and throughout the country, promoting commerce and tourism in towns like Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad. But routes like the Southwest Chief — Amtrak's longest line, connecting Chicago and Los Angeles through southern Colorado — are in desperate need of upgrades to ensure safe passenger travel in the years ahead. That's why I'm urging my colleagues in Congress to invest in capital upgrades to long-distance train service. The federal government must partner with the states and railroads to find the best path forward, and this investment will help communities across the country continue to maintain safe and reliable passenger rail service.
Colorado's military operations are vital to our national defense, and I'm extremely proud of the airspace warning and control mission performed by the Colorado Air National Guard. Our state's strategic location, excellent weather and easy access to training ranges make Buckley Air Force Base an ideal location to base F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. That's why I'm asking the Air Force to reevaluate its criteria prior to the next round of F-35 basing decisions so that the Colorado Air Guard can continue to keep watch over our skies.
The reckless government shutdown of 2013 forced Colorado taxpayers to foot the bill to keep Rocky Mountain National Park open while federal funds were frozen. Coloradans should not have to pay the price for partisan gridlock, which is why I introduced bipartisan legislation to right this wrong. My bill reimburses Colorado and several other Western states for the costs they incurred to keep national parks open during the shutdown. Our job-creating parks and public lands support Main Street businesses and fuel our outdoor recreation economy. We must continue to protect and support our national parks and the gateway communities they sustain.
Colorado and our nation's clean-burning and job-creating natural gas have an important role to play in strengthening global security. Russia's threat to withhold its natural gas exports from Ukraine shows more than ever before why we need to help stabilize the global market by responsibly developing American natural gas reserves and exporting some of our surplus. I introduced the American Job Creation and Strategic Alliances LNG Act to speed up the approval of permits for natural gas export facilities and expand access to more reliable suppliers of energy for World Trade Organization countries, such as Ukraine, Japan and India. My common-sense, bipartisan plan will strengthen our economy at home and help Colorado companies and small businesses across America bolster our presence abroad.
The high unemployment rate among returning veterans is unacceptable, particularly given the training, professionalism, dedication and work ethic our service members have already shown in serving our country. In order to connect veterans with employers, I have hosted veterans resource forums across Colorado to help local businesses recruit, interview and employ veterans. I am also a cosponsor of the Troop Talent Act, a bill that ensures that credentials and professional skills acquired in the military are more easily transferred to public and private sector careers. This will help to eliminate unnecessary retraining and speed the transition from active duty to the civilian workforce.