Sep 14, 2016

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

Sen. Pat Steadman: A Champion of Economic Justice

by | Sep 14, 2016

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy is proud to bestow this year’s Champions of Economic Justice Awards 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.

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, has dedicated his life to helping low-income Coloradans and securing the civil rights of historically marginalized populations.

A long-time resident of Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Steadman grew up in Westminster, Colorado, and graduated from Regis University in 1987 before graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1991.

Following law school, Steadman found a passion for politics and public service when he led the charge to have Amendment 2 (an anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative that Colorado voters approved in 1992) struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. His work on Romer v. Evans established the first legal precedent protecting the LGBTQ community, an accomplishment Steadman credits with inspiring him to pursue a career in politics and public service.

Following his work on Amendment 2, Steadman briefly worked on labor issues on behalf of a local union representing public employees. His passion for politics and the legislative process, however, soon compelled him to join a lobbying firm in 1994. As a lobbyist, Steadman quickly made a name for himself as an influential champion of progressive causes and an expert on Colorado’s budgetary and legislative processes.

In 2009, Steadman was appointed to fill the vacant seat for Colorado’s Senate District 31 after Sen. Jennifer Veiga resigned. In 2011, he was selected to serve on the powerful Joint Budget Committee and chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Throughout his tenure in the Senate, Steadman continued to stand up for those who have historically lacked representation. He has continued his crusade to ensure equality before the law for the LGBTQ community, fought hard for reducing mandatory minimums and sentences for non-violent crimes, supported Medicaid expansion in Colorado, worked to ensure additional protections for victims of domestic violence and much more. He has been described by colleagues and outside observers alike as a relentless policymaker who always seems to be at the forefront of the important issues facing Colorado.

CCLP recognizes Sen. Steadman for championing and advancing the causes we fight for every day. His work on criminal justice reform set the stage for our work on a statewide “ban-the-box” bill during the most recent legislative session.

His position on the Joint Budget Committee ensured the passage CCLP’s bill in 2015 that has helped Coloradans receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) become more financially secure by allowing them to keep child-support payments made by non-custodial parents.

During the last legislative session, he supported our efforts to fund affordable housing units for low-income individuals. He also was a lead sponsor this past session on successful legislation to ensure the state’s most vulnerable residents will be able to get official documents needed to obtain a state-issued ID card.

Unfortunately, Sen. Steadman is term-limited and unable to run for re-election in 2016. His expertise of the legislative and budgetary processes in Colorado, ability to gain bipartisan support and his passion for advancing the well-being and civil rights of all Coloradans will surely be missed by CCLP and other advocacy organizations and Colorado. But his role in fighting for these issues will undoubtedly continue.

We are fortunate to have advocates like Sen. Steadman and David Butler to fight for the economic security and civil rights of low-income Coloradans.

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

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

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.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

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.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

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.