I have lived in Colorado for the last 42 years, most of it in Colorado Springs. For most of this time Colorado has been a great place that attracted families, businesses and talented people. The last two decades have been different and I have struggled to figure out why and what to do about it.
I think I have figured it out.
As a society we have taken our eye off the ball. We have been distracted by negative politics, by partisanship, and by fringe ideology. Last summer I served on the Fiscal Stability Commission. Its charge was to figure out how to avoid the impending fiscal crisis in Colorado brought on by conflicting constitutional provisions.
Our approach was to ask the question “What kind of Colorado do we want?” The Colorado Springs Gazette asked a similar question in an editorial on June 27. I think this is exactly the right question to ask and how we answer it describes how we got here and how we can get back to having a state that is the business, cultural, and recreational mecca that Colorado ought to be.
So permit me to share my answer to that question with you:
When I think about Colorado …
I envision a place where: Communities have adequate police, fire and EMS resources to respond to their responsibilities within time frames that save lives, protect property and intervene in critical situations such that crises are averted.
I envision a place where: Everyone who needs to see a doctor can do so before getting sicker.
I envision a place where: Communities have schools that graduate 100% of those that enter the first grade and that graduation prepares every child for either college or a family-wage career.
I envision a place where: Every child, even those in need, get at least two nutritious meals every day.
I envision a place where: Communities provide a safe place for every child that has been neglected, abused or abandoned.
I envision a place where: Every child born with a developmental disability is embraced by the community and provided with every opportunity to maximize their quality of life.
I envision a place where: Every senior, even those in need, get at least one hot, nutritious meal every day.
I envision a place where: People with mental illnesses can get treatment and a safe place to live before they resort to crime.
I envision a place where: Every student has access to higher education within three hours car travel of their home and at a annual tuition cost of no more than 10% of their annual family income.
I envision a place where: Communities make sure that the air and water leaving their community is cleaner than it was coming in.
I envision a place where: Anyone can access the courts within six months in order to resolve a dispute.
I envision a place where: Everyone living in a metropolitan area has access to public transportation that will get them efficiently from their homes and places of work to any other place to obtain needed goods or services between 6:00 a.m. and midnight.
I envision a place where: The system of roads is maintained such that the speed limit can be achieved 90% of the time, weather permitting.
I envision a place where: Roads are plowed during snowstorms so that everyone can get to work each day.
I envision a place where: Prisons balance the need for punishment with the reality that nearly every prisoner will re-enter society and, therefore, makes sure that prisoners obtain the skills and tools necessary to thrive upon release.
I envision a place where: Open space is cherished and maintained.
I envision a place where: Colorado’s growth pays all of its own way without diminishing any of the above.
Can you imagine how great a state we would have if we went back to focusing our politicians on achieving each of these visions? Can you imagine how many companies would want to move to Colorado just to be a part of our community? Can you imagine the number of jobs that would create and sustain?
If we share this vision, we can work to achieve it, but first, we must share the vision. Do we?
John Morse, a Democrat, represents Colorado Senate District 11, which encompasses Manitou Springs, Colorado and eastern Colorado Springs. E-mail Morse at firstname.lastname@example.org