Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This Week
Nov 16 – 22, 2015
~ Karly Malpiede Andrus

I.   Hickenlooper’s Budget Proposal Clamps Down on SpendingPolicy Bits 11.16.15 Graphic

  • Governor Hickenlooper released his FY 2016 budget draft. There is an estimated $373M shortfall to cover required increases in education and Medicaid, while also maintaining the 6.5% reserve fund and paying out TABOR-mandated refunds. As part of filling that shortfall he suggests $50M cut to K-12 education and $20M for higher education. Some feel that may be part of a political game to garner support from the public for constitutional reform, specifically TABOR and Amendment 23, in line with some comments received on the “Building a Better Colorado” state listening tour (to be detailed in next week’s bits). Senator Lambert, Chair of the Legislative Budget Committee, suggested he may look outside of those suggestions to find places to cut like the economic development programs of film incentives and tourism promotion that are touted by Hickenlooper. https://goo.gl/CR7U8T
  • This affects everyone in the state and begs a few questions from both sides of the aisle. Stay tuned for future bits about this subject.

II.   Don’t Tell Me, Show Me – New HUD Mapping Tool Illustrates HOME Investments

  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new mapping tool which shows the total number of HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) units and breaks out the number of rental, homebuyer, and homeowner rehabilitation units. As Congress debates funding levels for the program please note that it is the most flexible tool in the affordable housing toolbox and a key gap filler in LIHTC projects and is the only federal resource allowed to produce home ownership opportunities which can create personal wealth hopefully moving people from needing government assistance.  http://goo.gl/POZPKH
  • This can help advocates articulate the impact of these investments, which leverage $4 of private funding for every $1 public especially as Congress debates programmatic spending levels in the Omnibus appropriations bill. Many are advocating that Congress fund the President’s desired level of $1.06 billion which, in addition to the needed production and preservation of affordable housing, would create or preserve over 18,000 jobs.

III.  Classroom space Trend Addresses Lack of ‘Soft Skills’ in Colorado Workforce

  • Active learning spaces – flexible, collaborative spaces designed for students to both learn and work in groups in a technology-rich environment with the teacher at the center are aimed at teaching ‘soft skills’ and are a growing trend. Similar spaces are available at the University of Denver,. Colorado State University-Pueblo, and the University of Colorado-Boulder. http://goo.gl/OFMy70
  • This is another great example of the importance of space and how the collaboratively informed design of that space can help facilitate new thinking that brings people together to learn how to better communicate with one another.