House Republicans’ Platform – Jobs

One of my biggest concerns regarding the impending state House elections was that we, as a party, might end up running without much of a platform beyond, “We’re not them.”  Now, this year, “We’re not them” probably would be enough to get us the six seats we needed for the majority.  But it’s not really much of a governing mandate.  Had this happened, we’d have been running the risk of repeating the same mistake we’ve just lived through with the Democrats, who took a “We’re not Bush” vote to be a mandate to remake the country into Sweden, and are now looking at their worst electoral performance in generations.

You’ll note that I’m using the pluperfect subjunctive, which means that this didn’t happen.  Today, the House Republicans issued a four-part governance plan, dealing with Fiscal Issues, Jobs, the Economy, and PERA.  I’ll be rolling these out over the next couple of days, along with my own commentary on them.  Let’s start with the one that’s the most important to Coloradoans – Jobs

Everyone knows the numbers: we’ve lost 160,000 jobs since the beginning of 2008.  Our state unemployment rate hit 8% in 2010, double from three years earlier.  The only way we’re going to get those jobs back is to create incentives for business, and by growing the private sector.   There are no easy fixes here, but Colorado can make use of its world-class research facilities, and it can draw on its tremendously well-educated workforce.  There are also long-term strategies, and short-term jump-starts.

  • Incentivize large-scale business investment in manufacturing, aerospace and other high-wage sectors by revisiting the Business Personal Property Tax.

It’s important to do this this year, when the deficit is relatively low (“relatively,”  in this case, meaning a couple hundred million dollars), to give the jobs time to materialize, so that they’ll be around when the federal money disappears in 2011-2012.

  • Constructing and maintaining a cutting edge multi-modal transportation system is essential to a thriving economy. Policymakers must create an infrastructure strategy for the state, seeking lower cost solutions and opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Not such a big fan of “multi-modal,” as it usually means, “expensive, inflexible, under-used rail.”  But it could also mean, “flexible, privately-operated buses and cars.”   This could mean privately-operated toll roads, which have worked extremely well in other places.

  • Improve the state commitment to biotechnology and biosciences by building on a 2008 package that provided some $26 million assistance for Colorado start-up companies8 and research institutions seeking to commercialize new technology.
  • Work with Colorado’s universities in technology transfer opportunities, to create new Colorado jobs and companies. Identify reasonable solutions to obstacles which stop cooperation between academic research institutions and free enterprise.

I’d include “nano-tech,” which will change the world, in this list, but that’s a quibble.  Productizing this stuff is really the name of the game; it lowers costs, raises our standard of living, creates both fabrication and design jobs, meaning it can employ both skilled workers and PhDs.  It creates the potential to raise our exports from the state, which haven’t kept pace with those from other states.  In the best-case, it can turn Colorado into another Silicon Valley-type operation, assuming it can find and attract venture capital for these operations.

The co-location of research, industry, and capital is fundamental to truly inventive entrepreneurship, and while it won’t create large-scale employment tomorrow, it’s the kind of thing that will bring back the economy.  I’m delighted to see the prospective House leadership embracing it.

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