Meg Fossinger is the Democrat candidate for Colorado's House District 20 seat.
What is your top issue for the next legislative session, and how do you plan to fix it?
My number one priority is ensuring that our government is serving us, the people. Our systems have been broken for a long time and COVID has exposed many of the vulnerabilities on a large scale. Far too many people are living on wages that do not allow them a safety net, thousands have insurance with high deductibles which stop them from seeking appropriate medical care, and small businesses are struggling just to remain open. My focus is on creating a more just society, one that invests in evidence-based programs that support our community members and businesses. In addition to addressing the basic needs of our community, we must address school funding. Prior to COVID-19, we had not returned our school funding to pre-recession levels. This legislative session, school funding was cut again. With Colorado ranking 50th in the nation for teacher pay, we must address this issue. While the legislature cannot fix this alone, we also tackle some of the flaws with TABOR and Gallagher, we must restore education funding. I was shocked to see that the Gray and Black Market Marijuana Enforcement Grant Program still received nearly a million dollars and the State Fair budget was only cut by approximately $130,000 despite minimal public events happening this year. When faced with challenging times, we must prioritize the programs that directly meet the needs in our community and focus on providing a strong educational foundation for our children. I am committed to fighting to restore funding for our schools by going line by line through the budget and focusing on the difference between needs and wants, just as we all do each month in going through our home budget.
How can the legislature address the state's housing and cost of living issues?
This is a multi-faceted issue that will require a multi-systems approach. Through public-private partnerships, similar to what Colorado Springs has recently done, the legislature can further facilitate the development of affordable and accessible housing. Additionally, we must take action to address the sky-rocketing cost of living while wages remain largely stagnant. I support providing tax breaks to businesses that are contingent on their employees being paid livable wages and being provided with additional benefits, such as affordable health insurance and paid sick leave. Right now, we subsidize many large corporations, not only in the tax breaks we offer to attract them to the area, but then in the safety net programs we provide to employees when they do not pay living wages. This is backwards, we should be working to attract businesses that pay living wages to our community and investing in our small businesses to support them in paying living wages. As a social worker, I regularly sit at the table with individuals from a variety of disciplines as we work together to tackle the challenges our clients are facing. We use our expertise in various areas to problem-solve and collaboratively work towards evidence-based solutions. To solve the housing and cost of living challenges, it will take this same type of collaboration with developers, land owners, land-lords, small and large businesses, as well as unions and government programs such as HUD and the Workforce Centers and I am committed to ensuring we are all at the table to do find solutions that work for all of us.
Should COVID-19 be handled more at a local level or from a top-level approach in the state?
COVID-19 has posed significant threats to our society, both in our physical well-being as well to our mental health and economic stability. Like all threats, it should be addressed by every level of our government, from the federal to the local municipalities. Our response to COVID-19 must be science and data driven, and I support the higher levels of government implementing additional funding as well as restrictions that can then be utilized or modified by the local communities based on their needs and the current science. I support the state putting appropriate restrictions in place to protect our well-being while also allowing for variances based on the case numbers and risk evaluation of the individual counties and municipalities.