Colorado Community Media asked the following questions of state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch, ahead of the 2020 legislative session, which began Jan. 8. Van Winkle represents House District 43, which includes Highlands Ranch.
What can be learned from the 2019 session?
While state House policies in 2019 swung farther to the far left than anyone anticipated, bipartisan coalitions were still able to make a difference in Colorado, and unlike Washington, improvement for Highlands Ranch families remain achievable. A huge thank you goes out to the hundreds of parents and citizens who visited the Capitol for the first time or one of my town hall meetings to let their voices be heard. Washington may be broken, but those who call and write still make a difference in Colorado.
What bill or bills are you most looking forward to working on in the 2020 session?
First, our kids deserve to feel safe in school. There is nothing more important for legislators to focus on and I’ve drafted several critical school safety bills to help protect families.
Second, one in five Coloradans live in the 18th Judicial District, which is by far the biggest in the state. The district includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. For the first time in nearly 60 years I’m proposing, with bipartisan support, the creation of a new judicial district centered right here in Douglas County.
Finally, our tax code remains the most complex in the nation, working to simplify the 756 different taxing rates found in Colorado will continue in 2020.
In light of Proposition CC’s failure in November, what steps should be taken for transportation and education funding?
Proposition CC would have repealed major portions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and allowed the government to keep tax refunds belonging to taxpayers. Colorado voters, once again, clearly said no to repealing the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and soundly rejected tax increases. This could be explained by the ever-increasing tax burden we have placed on Coloradans. Our state budget has doubled this decade. We don’t have a shortfall problem, we have misdirected priorities. My priority will be increased funding for education, roads and bridges without increasing the burden on taxpayers. I’ll continue to fight against the many frivolous new programs that rob taxpayer dollars from these priorities which are so important to Highlands Ranch families.
What do you envision as the most daunting challenge this session?
This session, the Legislature as a whole must focus on real solutions to Colorado’s problems. In 2019, that was increasingly difficult as many legislators raced to the left and sought unrealistic solutions that slouched toward socialism. Colorado deserves better.
Describe a successful 2020 session.
There are a wide variety of issues facing Colorado in 2020. Republicans in the House are outnumbered 41-24, yet I still passed bills in 2019 to increase K-12 funding, freeze tuition increases, cut back on burdensome regulations, became vice chair of the tax relief committee, and more. My aim is to continue working across the aisle where it’s possible to advance issues important to my Highlands Ranch neighbors, like fixing roads and improving our schools.
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