Oct 15, 2018

Recent articles

Statement: CCLP’s Ballot Measures Statement

With mail ballots scheduled to go out today and the Nov. 6 election less than one month away, here’s where Colorado Center on Law and Policy stands on three ballot measures:

CCLP OPPOSES Proposition 109, the so-called “Fix Our Damn Roads” initiative backed by Jon Caldara’s
Independence Institute.

If approved, Proposition 109 would require the state to issue $3.5 billion in bonds that would be repaid over a 20-year period. Annual payments would be $260 million.

We strongly oppose Proposition 109 because that $260 million would have to come from existing revenue, under the current TABOR revenue ceiling, which would require deep cuts to appropriations for other pressing needs. To find such a large amount of funds over a 20-year period, the legislature will have to reduce spending on higher education, leading to yet more tuition increases on top of already sky-rocketing tuition costs; reduce spending on behavioral health, which is already underfunded; reduce spending on other health care needs; and ignore many other pressing but underfunded needs of our growing and aging population.

Because the state would be locked in to repaying the bonds for 20 years, Colorado would not be able to address emerging needs such as meeting the growing need for in-home care providers for our aging population, responding to the growth in population living with dementia, meeting the housing needs of an exploding population, expanding access to preschool and reducing the already unaffordable cost of child care.

In addition to causing drastic reductions in services of all types, Proposition 109 would actually fail to address the most pressing transportation needs in our state. Transportation infrastructure should provide mobility for people as well as goods. The proceeds of the bonds would be dedicated exclusively to highways. None of the funds would provide mobility to those who cannot drive, reduce reliance on automobiles or allow Colorado’s transportation infrastructure to be modernized to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CCLP SUPPORTS Proposition 111 which limits the interest rate on payday loans to 36%.

Current caps on interest rates do not include fees and surcharges, and allow up to 45% interest on the principle loan. These rates force borrowers into a “debt trap” where they go deeper and deeper into debt just to pay the growing interest charges on their original loan. Payday lenders are concentrated in neighborhoods with residents that are struggling for economic security and where there are few to no banks. Almost a quarter of payday loan borrowers default on the loan, which harms their credit rating and often leads to bankruptcy. These consequences affect employment, the ability to rent a home at a reasonable rent, the cost of car insurance and the cost of any future borrowing, to say nothing of the borrower’s ability to buy a house. Payday lending is a highly profitable enterprise. It will remain profitable even if the overall interest rate is capped at 36%. The wages of Colorado’s hard-working families should not be stripped by irresponsible lenders.

CCLP SUPPORTS Amendment A to prohibit slavery or involuntary servitude under all circumstances.

Colorado’s constitution currently allows slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. We that it is inconsistent with fundamental notions of human dignity to compel labor, particularly in a coercive environment such as a correctional institution. Prohibiting slavery under all circumstances is an idea that is long overdue. The fact that slavery is still permitted in any form is an insult to generations of Americans whose ancestors were enslaved.

– By Claire Levy

Recent articles

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.