Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, describes the Republican legislative agenda in the GOP-controlled Senate as a “radical repeal-a-thon.”

Should she have expected anything less? Republicans are finally in a position to roll back what they consider the radical liberal agenda that Democrats have advanced over the past few years.

But as the political divide inevitably emerges, the promise that both Dems and Republicans made to work together to improve the economic fortunes of the rural areas of the state appears to be taking a hit. A bill introduced by Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and inspired by economic woes in Delta County brought about by mine closures, has been assigned to a “kill committee,” marginalizing its chance to even reach a floor vote.

That’s too bad because Donovan’s bill recognizes the outsize impact that job losses have in smaller communities. Her bill would allow areas of the state with 50,000 or fewer residents to apply for Department of Local Affairs grants. The money would be used for retraining and to stabilize communities roiled by layoffs.

The idea is to keep laid-off workers in the community because an exodus creates a negative multiplier effect. It puts pressure on small businesses, municipal government, school districts and the health-care system. A big problem in this scenario is that when a major employer goes down, it takes high-paying jobs with it. Workers can be re-trained, but if there are no high-paying jobs to step into, will they stay?

That’s for the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee to debate. If the bill dies along party lines, we hope committee members defend the move by offering a better alternative. Otherwise, this “let’s help rural Colorado” business is all talk.

 

The Daily Sentinel

January 20, 2015

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