Issue Position: Business and Economic Development
Colorado is home to a vibrant and expanding business community. We are a leader in the aerospace industry, ranking second in the number of aerospace workers employed within the state. Our other leading industriesagriculture, air transportation, technology, outdoor recreation, and financial servicescontinue to grow and will remain competitive if we are smart about our tax and investment policies. Colorado is also deeply involved in the exploding renewable energy industry. "Being green" is MAKING green ($) as the renewable energy industry gains momentum and creates more jobs and business opportunities.
Making Colorado Aerospace Number One in the Country
Colorado's aerospace industry is among the best in the world. The aerospace programs at our universities are top-notch, and Colorado favorably competes with Texas, Florida and California in terms of aerospace science and job growth. Colorado-based aerospace companies are responsible for the development of many of the essential components of the nation's aerospace program including the next generation of space shuttles, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), and replacement components for the Hubble Space Telescope.
As a Member of the Science Committee, I have worked hard in Congress to support Colorado's aerospace leadership. I have fought for all of NASA's programs because I believe that each of the programs-space exploration, earth science, space science research and aeronautics-are important to Colorado's economy and also critical for maintaining America's technological edge in the global economy. I have also argued for sustained and increased funding for the other national agencies with a significant Colorado presence, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). I also recognize the issues Colorado businesses are having with International Traffic in Arms Resolution (ITAR) compliance. (See also: Science, Technology, & Space)
Investing in Math and Science Education
Colorado's economy is dependent on many industries that require a highly qualified workforce for survival. Without a Colorado-based workforce available to fill jobs in the aerospace, bioscience, energy and software industries, those industries will be forced to move to places where they can find qualified employees. As a founding member of the House Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Caucus, I have worked to help Colorado fill that demand by supporting legislation intended to increase governmental support for science education programs. I am the cosponsor of legislation (H.R. 362) that would provide incentives to attract students studying science and math, and that increase STEM training for current students. The programs initiated by this legislation, which passed the House in April 2007, promise to help put 10,000 additional math and science teachers in our classrooms. I have also co-sponsored legislation that would create grants through the National Science Foundation to help improve science facilities in our secondary schools. (See also: Education)
Transportation and Infrastructure Funding
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 35% of the state's highways are in poor condition and 60% of the roadways will be in poor condition by 2024. Colorado will not continue to attract business if we cannot guarantee access to a reliable transportation network. We need to find innovative and sustainable ways to fund the maintenance of our transportation infrastructure. While highway funding is largely a matter of state policy, the federal government is also involved through the interstate highway program, and I have been successful in securing federal dollars for Colorado's priority projects. I have also been a consistent participant in the Denver Chamber of Commerce's annual Transportation Summit, because I know that our best transportation strategies come from dialogue that involves federal, state, local and business leaders.
My office has led efforts to support improvements on the US-36 corridor and the I-70 corridor. I have also been a champion of light rail and Fast-Tracks, because 21st century transportation policy is more about moving people and goods than it is about moving cars. We also have to continue to fund security and other improvements at DIA, to insure that this international hub airport continues to attract commercial activity in our region. As a Member of the Science Committee, I have authored legislation to improve the way the Federal Aviation Administration handles air traffic congestion. (See also: Transportation)
In Colorado, small businesses are an integral part of the state's economy and can be credited with much of the state's economic vitality.
I am working to ensure that Colorado's small businesses have the tools they need to succeed. My most recent actions include:
* I introduced the Small Business Telework Act, legislation intended to extend the benefits of telecommuting to the nation's small businesses.
* I supported the Small Business Contracting Program Improvements Act (H.R. 3867), which would institute a variety of changes that would increase the ability of small businesses to procure government contracts.
* I supported the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2007 (H.R. 976), which included an array of tax cuts and other provisions intended to help small businesses. The bill will make it easier for small businesses to invest in new equipment by extending their ability to count such investments as a business expenses, will increase the amount that small business can deduct for business expenses to $125,000, and will expand the number of small businesses that can take these deductions.
* I voted in favor of H.R. 3567, the Small Business Investment Expansion Act, that would, among other things, amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to increase the maximum amounts of leverage made available to the Small Business Administration (SBA) to any small business investment company which provides loans to small businesses.
* I am a cosponsor of the Small Business Tax Equalization & Compliance Act (H.R. 3016) and was a cosponsor of the Tip Tax Fairness Act of 2003 (H.R.2034), so that certain small businesses could claim a tax credit for Social Security taxes paid on tips.
* I am a cosponsor of the Community Banks Serving Communities First Act (H.R. 1869) that would enhance the ability of community banks to foster economic growth and serve their communities, boost small businesses, increase individual savings, and for other purposes.
Economic Vitality in Rural Areas
Though agriculture remains one of Colorado's most important industries, the economy in many of Colorado's rural areas has started to change. I believe that we must provide support for the economic development of those rural areas that can no longer rely on an agricultural economy for survival. As a result, I have repeatedly advocated on behalf of the Colorado Housing Finance Authority's application for new market tax credits, and supported legislation expanding micro-loan programs into rural areas.
I have also supported the development of alternative uses for agricultural products. In 1999, I introduced the Biomass Research and Development Act. This legislation created new programs in the Departments of Energy and Agriculture that would develop and promote the use of biofuels. Senator Lugar and I worked together to pass the bill as part of larger agriculture legislation in 2000. I also voted for the 2007 Farm Bill, which provided increased incentives for the use of agricultural products towards alternative fuels by improving the "Rural Energy for America" program and the "Bioenergy Program." Finally, in the last two Congresses, I have introduced the Healthy Farms, Foods, and Fuels Act which, in addition to helping farmers participate in conservation programs and land restoration projects, would offer grants for renewable energy use. (See also: Colorado Agriculture and a Stronger Rural Economy, Energy Security and a New Economy)
* The competitiveness of Colorado's business community depends on our making smart decisions about tax and investment policies. We need to immediately devote substantial resources towards the improvement of our education system, and towards the renewal of our transportation infrastructure.
* With a smart tax and investment policy, Colorado has the potential to climb to the position as the nation's leader in aerospace employment, and our other leading industriesagriculture, air transportation, technology, outdoor recreation, and financial serviceswill remain among the most competitive in the country.
* Colorado's economic vitality also depends on the success of our small business community and our rural economiesboth of which can be credited for substantial contributions to keeping Colorado competitive.