Sep 14, 2016

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David Butler: A Champion of Economic Justice

by | Sep 14, 2016

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy is proud to bestow this year’s Champion of Economic Justice Award on two people who have devoted their lives to helping low-income individuals and families: David Butler, Esq. and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. Both of these accomplished individuals will be honored at CCLP’s 3rd Annual Pathways from Poverty Breakfast, Oct. 6 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the History Colorado Center in Denver.

A member of CCLP’s Board of Directors since 2006, David Butler has a long and decorated career serving his country, Colorado and low-income individuals. A native of St. Paul, Minn., Mr. Butler graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and served in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. Following his time in the armed services, Butler attended Harvard Law School where he was an editor for the Harvard Law Review.

After graduating from Harvard in 1957, he moved to Colorado and began his career practicing law. He joined Holland & Hart LLP in 1957, became a partner in 1963 and stayed with the firm until 2008. While with Holland & Hart, he specialized in financial services and banking litigation and served on the Board of Directors for Columbine National Bank and UMB Bank Colorado.

Outside of his work with Holland & Hart, Butler was active in expanding access to legal services that are critical for low-income Coloradans through nonprofit organizations throughout the state. He has worked with the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver, served as Chairman for the Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado, the Colorado Planning Group for Legal Service to the Poor as well as the Colorado Access to Justice Commission — each with a mission to provide legal services to low-income Coloradans. In response to congressional cuts for legal services for the poor in the late 1990s, Butler served as counsel for the consolidation of Colorado’s three Legal Aid entities into one entity so that the legal aid community could be as effective as possible with the limited resources available.

Butler has consistently insisted in law journals that equality can only be achieved when all have equal access to critical legal services. While he acknowledged that barriers to legal services were more often than not economic ones, he also encouraged others to see that ethnicity, immigration status, and physical or mental impairments posed significant barriers as well.

As Treasurer of CCLP’s Board of Directors, Butler draws upon his expertise in financial and banking law to ensure the organization is financially sound and pursues goals that are within its capacity. His colleagues at CCLP are impressed with his ability to keep the bigger picture in mind regarding the mission of helping impoverished Coloradans achieve self-sufficiency.

It has been said that when Butler raises a thought, everyone gives their undivided attention because of his unique historical perspective on the issues and his life-long efforts to help those in need. He is known to ask the tough but necessary questions that guide CCLP’s efforts to forge pathways from poverty. Colleagues have lauded him as an accessible and selfless individual who serves everyday as an indispensible mentor, good friend and tireless advocate for low-income individuals and families in Colorado.

CCLP is honored to have such an accomplished and kind-hearted individual serve on its Board of Directors and pleased to present him with this prestigious award honoring his steadfast commitment to forging pathways from poverty.

Registration for the Pathways from Poverty Breakfast, which also features a keynote speech from Andy Stern of Columbia University, is available online.

-Kristopher Grant

Recent articles


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.