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Session a "Mixed Bag" for CO Working Class

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 By Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO, Contact
May 13, 2008

Denver, CO - 2008 has been a year of great ideas, but not enough money to pay for them. That's the summary of this year's Colorado legislative session, from groups that look out for the state's working families. Kathy White, project coordinator with the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, says some bold plans had to be put on hold, but the session still included some clear winners - and losers.

"Some, like mutual fund companies and other special interests, got some tax breaks, while low-income families did not. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit did not pass."

In White's view, the EITC is a proven way to help families make ends meet. She says, despite bipartisan support for bringing it back, the funding just wasn't available.

Elisabeth Arenales agrees that more comprehensive healthcare reform wasn't in the cards this year. However, as director of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy's Health Care Program, she notes that lawmakers did begin to lay a foundation for more progress in the future.

"There's no magic wand that we can wave. It's going to be a matter of continuing to devote energy and resources toward making it happen, and it won't happen overnight."

Arenales sees the 2008 healthcare developments as "baby steps," such as simplifying the application process for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and taking measures to control costs.

"I believe that as we think about laying the foundation for reform, these kinds of steps are important in achieving that goal."

Overall, says White, the session was marked by minor victories and missed opportunities, particularly in the areas of fiscal reform and healthcare. A full report on the healthcare-related work in this year's legislative session can be found on the Web site of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, at http://www.cclponline.org.

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