Cary Kennedy called for making education the state’s top priority and offering a public health care option for Colorado during a visit to Durango that included a meeting with teachers and a fundraising event at the DoubleTree hotel.
“We have to make education our No. 1 priority. We have to raise teacher pay and education funding in this state,” Kennedy told a crowd of 20, mostly educators who gathered Monday afternoon at Animas Brewing Co.
Education in Colorado has been underfunded for 30 years, she said, and identified the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as the culprit.
“Make no mistake, TABOR is the reason why we have the top-rated economy of any state in the country and among the lowest funding for education,” Kennedy said.
She promised to lead a bipartisan effort to reform the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that sets strict limits for state taxing and spending and requires a vote of the people to pass any tax increase for state and local governments.
Kennedy said she wanted to reform the taxing and spending limits of TABOR to allow the government to keep more tax revenue as the economy grows, but she said she wanted to keep intact the TABOR requirement that voters approve all tax increases.
In March, Kennedy received 11,583 votes in precinct caucuses statewide, and she noted she earned three times the vote of her next nearest competitor in the La Plata County precinct caucuses.
Stephanie Mt Pleasant, president of the Durango Education Association, said Kennedy has received the endorsement of the DEA as well as the Colorado Education Association.
“We support her as the pro-education candidate for governor who will work to solve the education funding shortfall for Colorado,” Mt Pleasant said.
State Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, said she doesn’t endorse candidates in the primary, but she was impressed by Kennedy’s time as state treasurer during the Great Recession, when Colorado avoided losing money in financial investments, unlike many state’s that had placed their tax funds in more risky investments.
“She knows a budget. She’s been to Durango a lot, and she understands teachers,” McLachlan said.
After visiting Animas Brewing Co., Kennedy moved to a fundraiser at the DoubleTree hotel, where she spoke to almost 100 people.
She said she wanted an affordable and accessible public health care option in Colorado.
In Colorado, she said, 94 percent of people have health insurance, but for many families it is increasingly unaffordable – with many families paying $2,000 to $3,000 a month for their health plans.
“We need a public health insurance plan, and we can offer it for less than the private sector – especially here on the Western Slope,” she said.
She called climate change the most-pressing issue Colorado faces and vowed as governor to double the state’s requirement for renewable energy generation, and she said she would work to adopt the standards of the Paris Climate Agreement even if the Trump administration does not cooperate.
She also said she was troubled by the attacks on immigration coming out of the Trump administration, particularly being married to Saurabh Mangalik an immigrant who came with his family to the United States from India when he was 7 years old.
“The hateful rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration and the Republicans is personal to me,” she said.