By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
State employees gathered at the Capitol on Friday in favor of several pieces of legislation that they believe would help create jobs.
Organized by the state employees’ union, Colorado WINS, and the AFL-CIO union, state workers — some unemployed — pointed especially to the Democrats’ centerpiece of energy reform legislation this year, which they believe would create more green jobs in the state.
House Bill 1001, sponsored by Rep. Max Tyler, D-Golden, would increase the state’s current renewable energy standard of 20 percent by 2020 to 30 percent by 2020. The bill would also set a requirement that 3 percent of total electricity sales come from so-called distributed generation systems powered not just by solar resources, but also by other renewables like wind. The measure passed through the Senate Friday on a final vote of 21-13 and is expected to be signed by the governor.
Tony Gamino, an unemployed printer, said during the rally Friday that legislation such as HB 1001 will put Americans back to work, which is the best fix for the down economy.
“Nothing will put people back to work like a strong economy, but we are not there yet,” said Gamino. “We need to take care of the families that have been hit hard by this crisis É we need to invest in green jobs and green technology.”
Republicans, however, blast HB 1001, arguing that the measure unfairly mandates utilities to rely more heavily on “taxpayer subsidized energy sources.” Utilities themselves actually support the measure, but Republicans argue that it would raise costs for the average business owner.
“This proposal may as well be called Colorado’s own ‘cap and tax’ bill because it is going to strangle our state’s economy and our pocketbooks,” Sen. Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement. “Economic growth does not come from political mandates; it comes from increases in productivity.”
Democrats and union members on Friday also pointed to two other bills aimed at creating jobs and helping the struggling economy.
Senate Bill 58, sponsored by Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, would provide up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for students pursuing masters or doctoral degrees in exchange for a five-year teaching commitment at a Colorado school of nursing; and Senate Bill 28 would create a so-called work share program allowing for the payment of unemployment benefits to employees whose work hours have been reduced.
“If we’re gonna ever get out of this recession it’s going to be because we put people back to work,” said Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, sponsor of SB 28. “That’s what this whole conversation is all about.”
In other coverage:
Colorado News Agency: “Justice for jobs” was the rallying cry today on what was dubbed “Labor Day at the Capitol” by Democratic lawmakers and area labor unions. House Speaker Terrance Carroll fired up the crowd with all the fervor that he usually reserves for Sunday mornings, when he occasionally preaches to a local congregation. Carroll began by asking the crowd if anyone wanted to get baptized across the street at the First Baptist church.