I bring a different approach to tackling our economic challenges. When I became Governor, Colorado was lagging at 40th in the nation for job growth. Our country was reeling from the Great Recession. We worked with local officials to create an economic plan for all 64 counties, merging them into a statewide plan — the Colorado Blueprint — and then we worked with communities across the state to implement it. For the last three years of my Governorship, U.S. News & World Report ranked Colorado the #1 economy in America.
Despite our progress, Washington’s failures prevented Colorado’s successes from being felt by everyone in our state. Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Cory Gardner’s corporate tax giveaways have left working Coloradans behind. Stagnant wage growth forced working families to do more with less, while the rising cost of childcare, health care, and housing left Coloradans with a paper-thin safety net. Misguided trade wars increased the cost of everything from food to steel. Meanwhile, women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color continue to face structural barriers to their success.
I believe we need a different approach. We need an approach that unites powerful forces for change in our economy — the private sector, nonprofits, organized labor, and educational institutions — to help the workers of today prepare for the careers of tomorrow.
The bedrock of this strategy is skills training. Currently, only 37% of young people in the United States complete a four-year degree. Apprenticeships offer an attractive bridge or alternative to postsecondary education. As Governor, I helped to establish CareerWise in Colorado, a job training program that works to provide students with valuable work experience, a paycheck in the tens of thousands, and free college credit — all while still in high school. As Senator, I will fight to close employment gaps in manufacturing, rural health care, and technology by providing diverse cohorts of students the on-the-job training they need to succeed in the economy of the future.
In addition to matching the needs of employers with the skills of the workforce, I will work hard to make sure no one is left behind in our economy. This means leveling the playing field by raising the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap, offering tuition-free community college, growing minority-owned small businesses, and strengthening unions. Furthermore, we must invest in the most dynamic and value-generating sectors of our future economy. Expanding Internet access and helping workers transition to clean energy jobs will make it easier for Coloradans to earn a living wage and develop the skills needed for their families to succeed.