By Allie Winter, STATE BILL COLORADO
As part of a plan to create jobs and improve working conditions in Colorado, Gov. Bill Ritter and Colorado Senate President Brandon Shaffer on Thursday unveiled four job-training bills that will come into play during the 2010 legislative session.
The first, called Job Retraining Accounts, will allow employer-matched, portable, employee-owned accounts to finance employee education and training. This will create a partnership between workers and employers. Rep. Andy Kerr and Sen. Bruce Whitehead are sposoring this bill.
The second proposal provides incentives to health care workers who will agree to serve in rural communities. Bill backers Rep. Sara Gagliardi and Sen. John Morse believe this bill will improve existing public and private loan repayment programs.
“Without any new taxes, we are cutting government and streamlining access to fair loan repayment programs for health care workers,” Gagliardi said. Morse said, “This bill creates a streamlined process to put primary care physicians and nurses in the communities where they are needed, without increasing the cost to taxpayers.”
Sen. Abel Tapia will sponsor the third bill presented, which is to improve the existing CollegeInvest nurse loan forgiveness program by extending its eligibility requirements.
A fourth and final bill announced was the CareerReady Colorado Certificate program. It was piloted earlier this year but would be available statewide if the bill passes and is signed by Ritter. The program provides job-seekers with a state-issued credential, certifying their skills and abilities. The sponsors of the proposed bill weren’t identified.
House Republican Leader Mike May agreed with Ritter’s focus on jobs. However, he had several criticisms. “I would suggest that if Gov. Ritter wants to get Coloradoans back to work, he repeal his onerous tax and fee increases, scale back his damaging oil and gas rules, and rethink the way government does business,” May said.