Like few other years, 2017 leaves Aurora and Colorado a long list of unfinished business.
The region was beset by problems and challenges created by a series of legislative missteps at the state Capitol, and by the Trump Administration, which seems to have declared war on communities like Aurora.
Here’s a list of 2018 priorities created by moves officials made in 2017:
Job one: Congress must fix the problem Trump and others have created for so-called DREAMers. Those children brought illegally to the United States who have known no other home and suffer the dangers and indignities of being an illegal immigrant — through absolutely no fault of their own — had their plight made worse this year when President Trump reversed former President Barack Obama’s mercy ruling dubbed DACA — The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman helps lead an effort in the House to right Trump’s wrong on this issue, creating a permanent legal remedy that allows DACA kids to enjoy the American life they have coming to them.
Aurora officials tripped on the issued when they foolishly undermined the city’s own police chief by declaring that Aurora is not a sanctuary city and will comply by the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant enforcement programs. They further caused problems by refusing to simply state the city’s support for DACA. A new city council can easily rectify these problems.
Next up: Explaining and fixing the Republican Tax Plan of 2017. Rushed through a partisan congressional process in ways that made the ridiculous Obamacare legislative massacre seem logical, Republicans patched together a broken tax-reform act that is certifiably toxic to millions of middle-class Americans.
It’s a looming disaster for just about everyone in the country who has health insurance or a need for it. The GOP tax plan is a hodgepodge of changes to tax deductions that experts stand fast in saying will net little to no tax savings to the middle-class that needs it most.
Worse, it borrows trillions of dollars from every American to give already rich individuals and flush corporations even more in tax breaks, which common sense and history show will trickle down only to shareholders and CEOs. The Republican Congress, including Coffman and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, scammed Aurora and the rest of the country with this legislative calamity.
But out of all the egregious aspects of this disaster, two things are most dangerous immediately: The bill foolishly and maliciously attacks the Affordable Care Act by ending the so-called Obamacare insurance mandate. The mandate requires all Americans have some kind of health insurance. The move provably will undermine the already convoluted and un-affordable insurance market, causing rate hikes to employers, employees and especially those who purchase insurance exchange policies.
Just as bad, the so-called tax-reform plan also sets into motion billions of dollars in Medicaid cuts that will further undermine the insurance market. It will end health-coverage for millions of Americans, and it will once again send them to emergency rooms and hospitals for once preventable illnesses, creating billions of dollars in unpaid services that will once again be passed onto consumers through insurance rate hikes.
It’s not too late to immediately address these critical mistakes in the tax-reform bill. Every member of the House, and one-third of the Senate, need to keep that in mind as their ill-gotten and ill-conceived tax plan infects the nation. There will, however, still be time to reverse much of this damage after the mid-term elections.
Anecdotal and polled opinions of Americans clearly show their patience with the mess Trump and Republicans have made of health-care won’t be tolerated.
Colorado Legislature Republicans must wrestle control of their party away from southern-California-tainted tea party members, and face the fiscal reality of Colorado’s growth before untold damage is done to schools, roads and the economy.
A one-seat majority in the State Senate has withheld real progress on building roads, improving schools and being fiscally prudent stewards of the entire state. Issues looming such as critical transportation and health-care issues can’t wait until voters give impetuous lawmakers the boot next November to get important work at the Capitol done.
In Aurora, the new city council must immediately deal with how to manage plans for extraordinary growth in the northeast region of the city, where developers are looking at building homes for another 60,000 or so Aurora residents. The city must tackle underlying infrastructure finance issues, finding a way to build out the city and improve the Aurora’s aging and insufficient roads and city amenities.
In addition, Aurora should immediately embrace the Bridge House program for homeless residents, targeting an ideal location near Nine Mile Station. The program not only provides essential services in a way no other program is, it makes clear Aurora has now grown up and is accepting the responsibility of being a major player in the metro area.
And both school districts in Aurora, APS and Cherry Creek, continue to fall further behind in finding ways to ensure poorer students catch up to proficiency scores for wealthier students. The problem of student testing deficiency has reached criticality in Aurora Public Schools, where the district is being overwhelmed by poor and immigrant students who don’t have a chance in getting the same education as their statewide peers because of foreign language and other barriers.
These problems must be solved quickly to make time for a plethora of others that will demand solutions next year.