The 2012 legislative session concluded last week with a big win for Colorado’s children and our economic future.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to pass HB12-1238, otherwise known as the READ Act, which is a uniquely Colorado solution to our state’s early literacy crisis.
When the Act goes into effect next year, struggling readers will be identified as early as Kindergarten, and teachers will work with them to diagnose their difficulties. Together with the child’s parents, an intervention plan will be developed that supports the child in developing those critical reading skills.
In addition, the Colorado Department of Education will provide training to assist teachers in delivering high-quality, effective reading instruction and intervention. Those teachers will frequently monitor each student’s progress and consistently communicate with the child’s parents to equip them with methods to implement at home that will help improve the child’s reading skills.
Finally, if a child still struggling with reading in third grade, the child’s parents, teacher and principal will consider retaining the child because this is the last grade devoted to helping students learn to read and, from fourth grade on, children need to be able to read to learn. Ultimately, a school district’s superintendent will make the final decision about what is best for the child.
Together with our coalition – which includes the Colorado Succeeds, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Stand for Children and Colorado Concern – that fought tirelessly for this legislation, I am grateful to Governor Hickenlooper, Lieutenant Governor Garcia and the bill’s primary sponsors, Representatives Massey and Hamner and Senators Johnston and Spence, for leading the way on this important step. We applaud the legislature for recognizing how important this piece of legislation is to our economic future and to our state’s children.
The business community is also celebrating the passage of HB12-1360, which moves $4 million to the strategic fund of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to be used for incentives for relocating and expanding companies to grow jobs. That money will be combined with $1 million in existing funds that were added to next year’s budget for that purpose. While $5 million can seem like a lot of money, it is small compared to the economic incentive funds other states use. In Colorado, we are very careful about how that money is used – ensuring that a company is helping to build a strong economy for Colorado before we deliver on those incentives. Without those incentives, Colorado will lose job-creating opportunities from companies that choose to relocate or expand to other states.
Yet, there is still work to be done.
Our legislature reconvened on Monday for a special session called by Governor Hickenlooper to focus on a number of unresolved issues. Included in that list is a bill that will help reduce the interest payments being made by businesses as we pay for unemployment insurance for unemployed Coloradans. This proposal will provide more prudent management of the fund and ensure that businesses get the best value for this required expense – money that really makes a difference to all our small businesses in the state. We hope the legislature will support businesses by approving this important measure.