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.
Colorado has the most small breweries per capita in the nation, and our breweries support more than 58,000 jobs and contributed $14.8 billion to our state's economy in 2012 alone. Our innovative brewers help keep communities across the state strong, but we can do more to ensure Colorado's craft brewers are able to keep creating jobs and growing their businesses. The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (BREW Act) would lower the tax burden on craft breweries so they can reinvest in equipment, their employees and new brews.
The recent bipartisan budget agreement wasn't perfect, but it will help to head off another destructive government shutdown and moderate the impact of a second round of so-called "sequestration" cuts to defense and non-defense priorities. While we need to reduce the federal budget deficit, Congress can and should replace a provision in the recently passed budget agreement that would otherwise unduly reduce the pensions of some retired service members starting in 2015. That's why I'm fighting to pass the Military Retirement Restoration Act which prevents these cuts to military retiree pensions by eliminating a tax loophole for offshore corporations.
Sequestration is hurting Coloradans in every corner of our state. Currently, an interpretation of the Mineral Leasing Act under sequestration is threatening $110 million in mineral royalties owed to states, including Colorado. Our state relies on these revenues from oil, gas and mineral production on our public lands to fund local governments, schools and other services. While I believe we must replace the sequester with a balanced deficit reduction plan, it must also be implemented according to the law. That's why I joined with a bipartisan group of western colleagues to support the State Mineral Revenue Protection Act, which ensures that Colorado communities will receive the mineral royalties they are due under the law.
To continue my efforts to spur small business growth and jumpstart job creation in communities across Colorado, I reintroduced the Small Business Lending Enhancement Act. This deficit-neutral, bipartisan legislation - which I have championed since 2009 - improves small businesses' access to loans by increasing the cap on a credit union's lending ability. At a time when access to credit remains a challenge for small businesses, this bill removes an artificial barrier to economic development in Colorado and across the nation. Congress should consider every reasonable and responsible way to make credit available to business owners who want to grow their businesses, make new investments or purchase new equipment.
From the largest brewers to the smallest nano-breweries, Colorado's innovative breweries make our state "the Napa Valley of Beer." The bipartisan Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act would lower the federal excise tax small and large brewers pay per barrel of beer, allowing them to reinvest tax savings to grow their business, create jobs and fuel the economy. My bill would result in 90 percent of licensed breweries in Colorado paying $0 in federal excise taxes, while reducing the tax on large brewers to $9 per barrel. This would result in thousands of new Colorado jobs and millions of dollars in wages while supporting established producers, emerging craft brewers and the many agriculture, manufacturing and business service sectors that are affected by increased production levels.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is about achieving equitable treatment for all sales so that businesses with a physical presence in Colorado, employing Colorado workers and living in our communities are not at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-state businesses that sell products online. I co-sponsored the Marketplace Fairness Act, S.336, and co-sponsored the Marketplace Fairness Amendment to the FY14 Budget Resolution. The Marketplace Fairness Act requires out-of-state online sellers to collect and remit local and state sales taxes. This is bipartisan legislation that will level the playing field for Colorado businesses and close a loophole that favors out-of-state sellers.
I joined with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to introduce a bipartisan, common-sense plan to replace the indiscriminate and arbitrary cuts associated with sequestration with more prudent, strategic choices. This plan would give the executive branch more flexibility in implementing the cuts while also allowing Congress to conduct appropriate oversight throughout the process. The Udall-Collins plan would temper the effects sequestration will have on our economy and national security.
I introduced the StartUp Visa Act of 2013 to help keep innovators and entrepreneurs in the United States. This legislation will spur private investment, create good-paying jobs and help ensure America remains the global leader in innovation. The StartUp Visa Act of 2013 is a bipartisan bill that will spur job creation and help immigrant entrepreneurs and highly skilled graduates of U.S. universities start businesses in the United States.