To kick off the 2011 legislative session, the Colorado AFL-CIO introduced an agenda to Reinvest in Colorado. We are calling on our elected leaders of both parties to create a new day of opportunity for those on the economic frontlines — the dedicated men and women who are the backbone of society who build and maintain our infrastructure, teach our kids and keep us safe and healthy. Despite the great economic engines of Colorado and America, working families are struggling.
Who is the economy working for, anyway? For years now, the disparity between the wealthy and the workers has grown exponentially. The economy favors the wealthy and the corporations — who clearly demonstrated the power of undisclosed corporate money in the 2010 election. Corporate profits increase yet layoffs mount. Wall Street rewards record bonuses while wages stagnate. Families can barely afford healthcare benefits yet insurance companies rake in record profits.
Reinvest in Colorado calls for a new era of economic security and an economy that works for everyone. Our agenda contains five principles:
1. Protect vital services and sustainable good paying jobs in the budget process
2. Promote Colorado jobs and use Products made in America
3. Use resources to hire a Colorado workforce and not outsources jobs overseas
4. Provide appropriate benefits for families looking for work
5. Work together to promote sustainable economic development.
We must build a sustainable economy that strengthens the middle class through good jobs and a voice at work. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his call for a second bill of rights in his State of the Union Message in1944, “Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”
It should involve developing and implementing an economic vision: Repairing the safety net for the unemployed by shoring up the unemployment fund and maintaining infrastructure. Investing in the people of Colorado by strengthening education at all levels. Colorado must ensure the long-term fiscal stability of the state. That means Colorado must balance the budget in a way that is fair to all, not just on the backs of working families.
We want to find strategic partnerships with employers in the business community to promote responsible policies that create good paying jobs and boost the economy. Good economic development begins with an educated and skilled workforce.
The time has come to call for a new era of economic security. Colorado’s working families stand upon this platform to Reinvest in Colorado and create an economy that works for all — not just the few.
Mike Cerbo, a former Denver legislator, is the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO.