When it comes to legislative proposals, ballot initiatives, or economic trends that could have a lasting impact on Coloradans and the state’s economy, where do you turn for unbiased facts and objective analysis? The Common Sense Digest is our regularly occurring podcast featuring policy experts discussing Colorado’s most pressing issues. Debuting the 4th Tuesday of each month, Common Sense Digest’s lively discussions equip you with the most important tool to combat divisive partisanship and shrill rhetoric – Common Sense.
The Economic Footprint of Homelessness in Metro Denver featuring Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner and Kristin Strohm
Common Sense Institute (CSI) has partnered with several local organizations and leaders to conduct a three-phase project to understand the many challenges and types of homelessness. Through a multi-faceted approach, CSI and its partners hope to identify the systemic issues that contribute to a person’s experience with homelessness and find the network of people and organizations working to make change. Bringing clarity and identifying the leverage points in these systems will support all who seek to tackle this challenge by providing critical information about where to invest their time, energy, and money to address the homelessness crisis.
One of the report's authors, Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner, Ph.D, along with CSI President Kristin Strohm, join our Host and Chairman Earl Wright to discuss Phase 1 of the report, which can be found here.
Homelessness remains a pressing issue for the Metro Denver region. COVID-19 increased the visibility of the issue with shelters closing due the pandemic and greater numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness outdoors. Data indicates that the longer people are unsheltered, the more challenging rehousing becomes. Strategies to improve early intervention, rapid rehousing, and permanent supportive housing are the path forward, as they mitigate the risks to the individual and society of long-term homelessness. Such strategies must also involve wraparound services to help some individuals overcome substance abuse, mental illness, and other trauma. The complexity of the ecosystem surrounding homelessness and the scarcity of affordable housing in the region makes implementing these strategies immensely difficult.
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Regulating Our Commutes Through the Employee Trip Reduction Plan featuring Sandra Solin and Tom Brook
In 2019 the Colorado state legislature passed a new law establishing significant greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Those targets include a statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emission of 50% from the 2005 baseline by 2030, and an 80% reduction from the 2005 baseline by 2050. The 2019 bill, known as HB-1261 ‘The Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution’ and many other related bills that have passed since then, have authorized new forms of regulation with the intent of meeting the state’s new greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
On this edition of Common Sense Digest, Chairman and Host Earl Wright is joined by two important guests to talk about just one of these new regulations currently making its way through the rulemaking process. The ‘Employee Trip Reduction Program’ or ETRP, would regulate your commute to work in an attempt to take single-occupancy vehicles off the road.
Sandra Solin is the Founder and Head of Capitol Solutions and has been at the center of major public policy debates in Colorado for several decades. Sandra represents the Business Alliance for Economic Regulatory Sensibility, a party to the ETRP rulemaking. Sandra, welcome back to the podcast. Also joining us is Tom Brook. Tom is the President and CEO of Denver South, an economic development organization focused along the I-25 corridor south of Denver. His organization is also a party to the ETRP rulemaking process.
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How Will Colorado Spend its Federal Stimulus Money and How Should It? featuring Brenda Dickhoner and Chris Brown
In 2020 and 2021 Colorado received more than $65 billion in federal aid money. The bulk of this money came in the form of direct stimulus payments to citizens and loans like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but a substantial portion of the funds went to state coffers, and notably $2.5 billion went to K-12 education.
On this edition of Common Sense Digest, Chairman and Host Earl Wright is joined by CSI’s Mike A. Leprino Fellow, Brenda Dickhoner, who recently authored a report on how that money was allocated, what it was spent on, and money that remains to be allocated. You can view that report at this link on our website. Also joining the show is CSI's Vice President of Policy and Research Chris Brown who has spent substantial time this year tracking the various federal spending bills and their impacts on Colorado.
They answer and discuss the questions that should be on all Colorado citizens' minds: Where did that money go? Where will it go? Who is accountable for its allocation? And how can we as citizens get involved to advocate for and ensure the money gets where it's needed most. You will walk away from this episode with a much more sophisticated understanding of federal stimulus money and its impact in Colorado.
Thank you for listening to Common Sense Digest. Please rate, review and subscribe on your favorite podcatcher. Find all of our episodes on our website.
From Conflict to Compassion: A Colorado Housing Development Blueprint for Transformational Change
Housing is a basic human need and with the affordability crisis we face, the future of many families and the competitiveness of our state are truly at stake.
On this edition of Common Sense Digest, we welcome Peter LiFari, Executive Director of Maiker Housing Partners, the Adams County Housing Authority, and Evelyn Lim, Former Region 8 Administrator at the US Housing and Urban Development, and current Director of Policy and Research at the American Cornerstone Institute to discuss housing affordability. Peter and Evelyn are this year’s Terry J. Stevinson Fellows and their report on housing affordability is the culmination of months of work and stakeholder conversations.
They join CSI Chairman and Host Earl Wright in a wide-ranging conversation about the causes of and solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Colorado. Earl asks probing, challenging questions of our guests, and Peter and Evelyn despite coming from differing ideological perspectives, offer concrete, implementable solutions that would benefit not only those priced out of Colorado’s skyrocketing housing market, but all Coloradans as well.
To read their report, please visit our homepage. You may also learn more about the Terry J. Stevinson Fellowship here.
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The Past, Present and Future of TABOR featuring Michael Fields and Dustin Zvonek
On this edition of Common Sense Digest, we take a deep dive into a major law unique to Colorado, and why it is relevant today, nearly three decades after being voted in by Coloradans in 1992. That's right, we're discussing the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, commonly referred to as TABOR.
In recent years, we have seen direct attempts through our state’s ballot process to strike TABOR entirely. At present, TABOR is being challenged from multiple angles and our Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes two guests to discuss why TABOR matters, what makes it unique, and what challenges lie ahead for it.
Joining Earl is, first, Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, a 501(c)(4) that fights "for limited government, lowering taxes, fighting government over-regulation that stifles freedom, affordable and accessible health care, free enterprise, and a strong national security." Also joining is Dustin Zvonek, current candidate for Aurora City Council, a small business owner, former congressional and legislative aide, current member of the Aurora Citizens Advisory Budget Committee, and alumnus of Common Sense Institute.
Thank you for listening to Common Sense Digest. For more information about TABOR, please visit our website.
Is Help on the Way for PERA’s Unfunded Liability? featuring Earl Wright, Amy Slothower and Zachary Christensen
Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) contains more than $30 billion of unfunded liability, which represents a potential disaster for Colorado taxpayers. The federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) is estimated to deliver an additional $3.9 billion to the state government, which, along with government revenue that is forecasted to grow to $936 Million above pre-pandemic levels in the next fiscal year budget, there is a unique opportunity for Colorado to make bold investments in its future and pay down some debt, likely including the large unfunded liabilities of PERA.
Common Sense Institute President & CEO Kristin Strohm takes over hosting duties on this edition of Common Sense Digest and has the unique privilege of turning the tables on our usual host, CSI Chairman Earl Wright, who brings unique insight into the PERA discussion. Also joining us is Amy Slothower, Project Director for Secure Futures Colorado, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to public pension reform. Amy recently wrote a great opinion piece published in Colorado Politics a few weeks ago that helped to inspire this conversation.
Additionally, Zachary Christensen, Managing Director at the Pension Integrity Project and Senior Policy Analyst for REASON Foundation joins the program. The Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation offers pro-bono consulting to public officials and other stakeholders to help them design and implement pension reforms that improve plan solvency and promote retirement security. All three unpack the contributing factors that led us here, assess the current situation, and examine the potential fixes in a lively and stimulating discussion.
Our report on the issue can be found here.
Helpful policy impact insights from community leaders
Common Sense Institute offers some of the best research on Colorado state policy impacts. This podcast is an excellent extension of the public resources they offer, by engaging community leaders across many fields in conversations that shed further light on pressing issues.
Insightful and compelling!
The common sense digest is my go to resource for staying up to date on Colorado politics. I find their podcasts to not only be insightful, but also compelling!