Background: The economy went into a recession in February as the coronavirus began to spread and led to lockdowns across the country. In Colorado, more than 500,000 people have filed for unemployment and the state is facing billions in lost revenue.
Wants to protect small businesses
A: Hickenlooper supports four different actions to protect small businesses that are struggling right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He wants to boost the Small Business Administration’s capacity for loan forgiveness and tap the Community Reinvestment Fund to address small business liquidity. He also believes Congress should consider specific funding and benefits for small businesses including the use of technology, information and infrastructure. He also is pushing for the creation of capital pools and the development of financial products that will continue to benefit small businesses once the crisis has passed or if another may arise.
Consumers need more protections
A: He is focused on pocketbook issues and backs an immediate freeze on evictions nationwide, as well as efforts to block foreclosures and utility shutoffs. He supports a suspension for student loan payments and additional financial support for families and small businesses. Other efforts that are needed, he says, include paid family, sick and medical leave, and food and housing assistance.
Background: The U.S. House in May approved a $3 billion package designed to stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus and help people make ends meet. Republicans opposed the legislation, dubbed the HEROES Act, and the Senate has not acted on it.
Families should get up to $2,000 a month
A: He supports a plan put forward by Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and others to give most people an additional $2,000 check with future payments on a sliding scale. He said Congress also needs to expand the small business loan program and use existing technology to get relief to people more quickly.
Supports additional federal stimulus
A: Romanoff says it takes more than a $1,200 check in the House-passed legislation to keep families afloat. He believes in larger and more sustained support -- increasing the amount and keeping it going throughout the pandemic. He also wants changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to help businesses left out in the first rounds of loans.
Background: The wealth gap in the U.S. continues to grow, recent studies show, and the same is true in Colorado. The state’s median income in 2018 was $68,811, according to Census figures. The recession is only expected to exacerbate the problem, experts say, and the economic divide between urban and rural Colorado remains an issue.
Level the playing field
A: Hickenlooper said he will fight for closing employment gaps in manufacturing, rural health care and technology with on-the-job training for students and investments in technology and internet access. His campaign says the goal is to level the playing field by raising minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap, offering tuition-free community college, growing minority-owned small businesses and strengthening unions.
A: Romanoff pledges to ensure equal pay for equal work, including full equality for LGBTQ+ people. His plan includes raising the minimum wage to keep pace with the cost of living, restoring overtime pay and protecting against wage theft, providing job training for dislocated workers and more.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Background: The topic of paid family leave became a dominant conversation at the state Capitol for the past two years, but Democratic leaders recently abandoned their attempt to create a program. Instead, the idea’s supporters are pursuing a ballot measure in November. In the meantime, state lawmakers developed legislation to provide paid sick time to workers.
In reversal, he now supports paid family leave
A: Hickenlooper supports at least 12 weeks of paid family leave to workers, including the birth or adoption of a child, to deal with serious health conditions or to care for a sick family member. But he opposed a Denver ballot measure in 2011 to require businesses to provide five to nine paid sick days a year, depending on the company’s size. He said it would cost jobs.
Background: President Donald Trump received bipartisan congressional approval for a rework of NAFTA -- now known as the USMCA, or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The deal includes new protections for auto manufacturing and labor and the environment, and it relaxes market restrictions on dairy products to encourage trade. It came as a welcome relief to many Colorado farmers and manufacturers. But if elected, a new president also would inherit strained relations with China and other countries subjected to punitive Trump administration tariffs in recent years.
Supports the trade agreement
A: Hickenlooper supports the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. He hopes that the three countries can move ahead with protections for Colorado’s farmers, workers and businesses. Hickenlooper does not support trade tariffs and opposes President Trump’s tariffs on goods from China and the European Union. Instead, he said he supports free-trade agreements.
He declined to take a position
A: Romanoff would not say whether he supported the agreement. But in terms of other trade deals, he said they must respect the rights of workers in the U.S. and abroad and include human rights and environmental standards.
Background: Rural Colorado continues to face shortages of critical professions like doctors and teachers. A stunning 98% of new jobs in the past decade have been created along the urban Front Range, leaving wide swaths of the state behind. Recent federal assistance has come in the form of a farm bailout and tax incentives, but produced mixed results.
Tax credit for small businesses
A: Hickenlooper proposes a tax credit for small businesses. He wants an agenda that builds on assets of each rural community instead of a one-size-fits-all strategy.