State representatives from the Roaring Fork Valley claimed at a town hall meeting in Basalt last week that they are proof it’s possible to accomplish bipartisan governance in an era of tribalism.
Rep. Julie McCluskie and Rep. Dylan Roberts, both Democrats, invited Rep. Perry Will, a Republican, to attend their town hall gathering. McCluskie’s district includes Pitkin County while Roberts’ district includes Eagle County. Will is the former area wildlife manager for the Roaring Fork Valley who was appointed to a state representative seat late in the session. His district includes Garfield County.
In brief introductory comments, Roberts claimed legislators put aside party differences in the vast majority of issues they debated. Roughly 400 bills were introduced during the four-month legislative session.
“A good, bipartisan town hall here, too,” Roberts said.
Will credited Roberts and McCluskie with helping him get acquainted with policies and procedures as a new representative, despite their party differences.
Roberts and Will were the House sponsors of a bill that will generate money for the Housing Development Grant Fund. The intent is to make funds available to expand the supply of affordable housing in Colorado, particularly in rural and mountain areas.
Roberts and McCluskie visited the Basalt Vista affordable housing project — a partnership between multiple entities in the Roaring Fork Valley — during their visit in Basalt. They labeled it an impressive model on how to accomplish affordable housing.
McCluskie said bipartisanship also was vital to proposing a way to generate much-needed funding for statewide transportation improvements.
She was one of the sponsors of House Bill 1257, which had bipartisan support to seek voter approval in November for transit and education funding. The state government must refund revenues that exceed annual limits by the Taxpayer Bills of Rights, also known as TABOR.
The state will ask voters if it can retain and spent the state revenues in excess of the limits. It doesn’t authorize a tax increase. It allows the state to retain revenue created by growth.
If voters approve that measure, companion legislation earmarks one-third of new funds for K-12 public education, one-third for higher education and one-third for transportation needs.
Colorado voters rejected two proposals to raise taxes for transit solutions in November.
The legislators also said progress was made on health care issues through multiple bills. The issue will remain an area of concern next year.