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Q&A with state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle

Infrastructure needs are crucial, says legislator from Highlands Ranch

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Republican state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle was sworn into the Colorado House of Representatives in January 2015. He currently represents District 43, which encompasses Highlands Ranch. Van Winkle was born and raised in Douglas County and graduated from Highlands Ranch High School. He owns a marketing and research firm in Highlands Ranch.

What is the most important issue for the Legislature to tackle this session, and what needs to be done?

The people of Colorado have called on us to make roads and bridges a priority and to keep up with our growing economy and population — and I have heard the call.

It's been nearly two decades since voters approved the TRANs bonds, which led to major transportation upgrades like T-REX, and transportation improvements have fallen behind. It's not from a lack of government revenue. Colorado taxpayers give enough already; we can build the roads Colorado needs without compromising any essential state services.

Our state budget has grown by $10 billion since Governor Hickenlooper first took office, surpassing $30 billion for the first time. It will likely grow another billion in 2018. Setting aside just $300 million (less than 1 percent), will fund new bonds and send $3.5 billion, twice the amount of the 1999 TRANs Bonds, to fix up our outdated roads. There is no reason to delay funding the infrastructure projects Colorado needs.

Describe two pieces of legislation that you plan to sponsor.

The critical issues facing our state require planning not just for next year but years into the future. Families develop long-term plans to ensure long-term goals are achieved; government should do the same, and the people of Colorado deserve a budget that respects them enough to truly prioritize important functions like education and transportation.

I'm drafting legislation to require each department to produce a forecast showing where they plan to go three and five years into the future. This will give legislators much-needed information when making decisions to better prioritize long-term priorities, and help decide if a given program is truly meeting goals and benefiting citizens.

In a related proposal, each department should draft plans now for a possible economic pullback in the future that assumes a budget-cutting scenario. The time to draw a blueprint is now while our economy is hot and cooler heads can thoughtfully plan for a rainy day.

For this session to be deemed a success, what must happen?

As one of the fastest-growing states, we are obligated to lay solid foundations for the future and better prioritize education, transportation and the freedom of individuals to thrive unencumbered by overly burdensome regulations and taxes. We need to respect the taxpayer enough to plan long-term and avoid wasteful government spending. A great blessing of the Colorado Legislature is it functions nothing like Washington. We find ways to work across the aisle for the good of Colorado. Let us do so once again to fix our roads, boost education and save for the future.

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