The Issues At Hand
Regina has a servant's heart and is passionate about the community having the best quality of life and will always put her community first by staying engaged and advocating for change in a fair, equitable, and meaningful way.
Public education consisting of quality educational opportunities and safe, secure classrooms is an obligation to our children and imperative for an informed, productive citizenry. Like infrastructure needs, our academic requirements must be consistently and deliberately undertaken. Our efforts should seek mutual trust between the government and the public, based on the shared understanding that each new revenue stream will provide value for taxpayers. I will work with Legislative colleagues to increase funding for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) competitive grant program. The BEST Program supports public schools looking to invest in their capital construction needs. Additional funding could come from re-allocating Amendment 64, particularly sales tax revenue that is currently going to the General Fund.
In addition to addressing capital building needs, the COVID Pandemic has highlighted the necessity for a more comprehensive method to account for the challenges students face outside the classroom. For example, more money is needed for students with disabilities; concurrently, we must develop a methodology to help poorer districts afford some extras that taxpayers in wealthy communities already provide. And we must meet the need for enhanced social-emotional learning support for all students, particularly those who come from poverty-stricken environments. Addressing these challenges is paramount if we curtail and correct Students’ learning loss resulting from instructional adjustments made due to the COVID Pandemic.
Of course, to facilitate Economic Development and comprehensive enhanced quality of life, we must address infrastructure shortcomings with a sense of urgency. You and I are not the only ones thinking about infrastructure. Every day, a cadre of dedicated State and local Civil Engineers review and evaluate our essential infrastructure components. As part of our societal pledge to hold paramount the public’s safety, health, and welfare, the Colorado Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) provides an annual Report Card on Colorado’s Infrastructure. This Report Card presents information for every citizen and decision-maker so that they too can understand how Colorado’s infrastructure is faring and what can be done to improve core elements. The 2020 Report Card for Colorado’s Infrastructure gave the state an overall C-GPA. ‘That is…when all the major components of Infrastructure (roads, bridges, drinking water, wastewater, solid waste, transit, and schools) are assessed in sum, and the state received a grade of “Mediocre, Requires Attention” [C-]. The good news is there are solutions to all these challenges, and we can raise Colorado’s infrastructure grades. However, it will require a commitment to standards, time, and money.
I believe that safe communities and safe streets are wise investments that we must make to protect our families and ensure healthy and safe living environments. As a mom and business owner, I know that public safety is unequivocal; and essential infrastructure components are imperative for safe living and working conditions. I will prioritize infrastructure during state budget discussions because this is the primary means of connecting disparate parts of the state, strengthening the economy, and alleviating challenges associated with a quickly growing population. Thus, adequate support must be provided to our communities to promote an enhanced quality of life. As a Legislator, I will put together an inclusive infrastructure connectivity plan that identifies all regions of the state and prioritizes low-income and rural areas.
To comprehensively recover from the COVID Pandemic, we will need to reinvent and enhance Job opportunities throughout the State; however, nowhere more urgently than Southeast Colorado Springs. I will work with legislative colleagues, local entities, and the Governor to provide Colorado companies the first opportunities for state contracts so that we can keep our tax dollars and jobs right here in Colorado instead of shipping them to other states or overseas.
Success here will bring jobs to the community that provides nearer to home commodities, increase family income, and create a skilled workforce, thus creating an enhanced quality of life for all. Moreover, I will continue work with our local Southeast Colorado Springs initiative, THE THRIVE NETWORK. The THRIVE NETWORK’s goal is to eliminate economic barriers by providing people in our community with tools to activate and launch their success, primarily through entrepreneurship. The idea and intent are possible through efforts and programs that teach aspiring and dedicated individuals within communities to see their problems as economic opportunities and provide a framework to launch small businesses to address those needs.
Further to my work in fostering and cultivating Economic Development, I will pursue creative and practical approaches to increasing affordable housing opportunities and supply throughout the state. The correlation between affordable housing and economic growth is well established and certain. Therefore, we must stop talking about “affordable housing” as a ‘stand-alone’ problem; and begin speaking about affordable housing as a foundational pillar for successful economic development and fundamental to building healthy and strong communities.
Research and studies have shown affordable housing uplifts residents encourages social connection, reduces overcrowding, increases adjacent property values, attracts businesses and jobs, and reduces crime rates. When I speak to ‘affordable housing,’ I describe the commonly used and accepted definition that is housing that a household can pay for while still having money left over for other necessities like food, transportation, and health care. Therefore, what is considered “affordable” depends on a household’s income. This again spoke to the importance and correlation with economic development and enhanced job opportunities. Both of which allow for a higher quality of life for our citizens.
Moreover, people should not choose between one basic necessity and another. Therefore, I am committed to taking an active and inspired role in improving the availability of affordable housing across the state. The lack of affordable housing affects everyone; and the overall health of our economy. As a point of reference, the federal government typically defines housing as affordable when it consumes no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. Therefore, everyone needs and benefits from the reason availability of affordable housing. From high-income earners to hourly wage workers, people experiencing homelessness, and everyone in between.
The rent or home price that is affordable may vary from one household to the next, but everyone shares the need for housing that is affordable. What I will do about this recognized problem. As your Representative, I will work to provide common sense and reasonable development and building incentives; review and revise zoning ordinances as appropriate, and encourage the forming of Public and private partnerships dedicated to increasing affordable housing numbers.
I think we can work collaboratively and collegially with Developers, local governments, and businesses in significantly expanding the availability of affordable housing throughout the state and our District. I envision an improved quality of life for all that comprises not only lower rents and mortgage payments but also nearby jobs, childcare we can afford, streets that are safe and easy to walk and bike along, family and friends, accessible public transportation, livable income levels, and the reality of diverse and inclusive neighborhood connections foster a more enhanced life for all people, especially as neighborhoods shift in demographic makeup over time.
My pursuit and work for affordable housing will encompass the complexities and resource-intense understanding required to fix the problem. This is more than a question of affordability; it is about doing our best for the communities and people we care for and represent. It is about more significant tax generation, the creation of jobs, more opportunities for economic development, increased job retention and productivity, and the ability to address inequality — all of which are among the economic benefits of increased access to quality, affordable housing.