The 2010 legislative session: good news, bad news

With the Colorado General Assembly’s 2010 legislative session adjourned, many employers are asking: What’s the result for us?

In simple terms, the session’s outcome could have been much better for our state’s business climate. Against the background of a severe economic downturn, the session’s challenging political climate forced CACI to play defense to protect employers and jobs.

Were it not for the efforts of CACI and its members, working in coalition with other business organizations, the result could have been much worse for the business community. CACI also is disappointed that more wasn’t done by the legislature to help employers retain and create jobs, much less lay the foundation for the state’s economic recovery.

CACI faced an uphill battle for the great majority of the four-month-long session. We recognized that declining state revenues, due to the economic recession, led to a growing state budget deficit. The state budget understandably dominated the attention of Gov. Bill Ritter and legislators this session, and balancing the state budget was no easy task.

CACI’s members were very disappointed, however, that raising taxes on business to the tune of $231.3 million was part of the answer by the legislature and the Governor. Putting an additional cost burden on companies is not the answer to economic recovery and job growth.

In addition, a large number of bills were introduced and debated that ran counter to talk from majority-party legislative leaders at the beginning of the session about job creation and economic growth. For employers, these bills would have raised the cost of doing business, created uncertainty at the worst possible time and likely cost jobs.

CACI’s strong advocacy team worked full-time to prevent these bills from passing–at least in their introduced versions. We fought day-in and day-out to either have these bills killed outright or amended so substantially that they were no longer a threat to employers. Our effort was helped with the active involvement of CACI members, local chambers of commerce (who also are CACI members) and other business organizations.

These bills ranged from ones that would weaken the workers’ compensation system and the civil justice system to others that mandated a company’s vacation policies and the “sunsetting” of business tax provisions (credits and exemptions). In the months ahead, CACI will continue to tell our elected state leaders that the answer to the state’s revenue needs lies in making positive, pro-jobs changes that will help struggling companies of all sizes emerge from the recession.

Specifically, CACI will work between now and the January 2011 legislative session to develop proposals for reducing the cost of doing business and to protect and improve our regulatory and legal climates. If the legislature considers more tax changes in its 2011 session, however, we will strongly oppose those that simply raise the cost-of-doing-business and instead promote those that would help employers become more competitive.

Finally, in the months ahead we also will be working hard to identify and support pro-business candidates running for legislative seats at the November elections, with both public endorsements as well as contributions from our Colorado Business Political Action Committee (CB-PAC) and our small donor committee, The Colorado Prosperity Fund.
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