Maria Orms, Candidate for Senate District31 Answers to Colorado Sun Questionnaire
Why are you running for office?
I stepped up to represent Senate District 31 because I want to change the inequities and crises in climate change, affordable housing, economic opportunities, and education funding that are happening, but no one solves. As a veteran and a progressive Democrat, this disturbs me. These are not the ideals that I risked my life for. Integrity should not just be a buzzword during the election season.
Our state legislators are passing bills that make tiny incremental changes used for sound bites and scoring points for re-election campaigns but do not solve anything. We have created scenarios where lobbyists, corporations, and a few politicians are the only happy entities. The games of the past must stop. Integrity, values, and real discussions need to take place on the Senate floor, where the results are real changes that move Colorado forward.
What Colorado issue is most important to you and how will you address it?
Fracking is polluting our air, poisoning our families, and the water used in the process is forever unusable. I'm fighting fellow Democrats and the Oil & Gas industry on an issue that is pushing us towards an existential crisis.
The budget is now centerstage. Citizens are fearful, and it's time for new leadership and new ideas. With my business background, I've made it my focus to help Colorado families get back to work. I've focused on structuring and supporting legislation for paid leave, developing micro-credentials, and sponsoring a Colorado Jobs Act similar to FDR's efforts and lessening citizen's fears.
Our tax system is inequitable and unfair, with 93% of Colorado income taxes collected from individuals. A graduated tax and higher tax on corporations are both needed.
Colorado has many important issues, and we can address them together and make a more significant impact, but only with real progressive changes.
How should the state deal with the budget crisis - be specific in terms of programs and dollars. What should be cut, what should be preserved?
First, we declare a fiscal emergency, remove the budget silos, and support SB-205 and SB-271. We need a values-based approach to the budgets for the next two years. There are over 420,000 Coloradans unemployed. Legislators keep saying, "imagine 15-25% budget straight cuts across the board". Those cuts would gut 76,000 Coloradan kids from healthcare insurance and remove 15% of teachers. That's lazy governing, and I can't abide by this way of thinking.
I don't want to just focus on cuts; let's focus on creating opportunities. We can't cut K-12 Education, Human Services, or Healthcare. We need to look at ways to invest more in all of them. Legislators are talking about 58% divestment in Higher Ed funding. That's wrongheaded in an economic downturn; people usually end up in schools. We can, however, cut in Corrections; let's look at home detention for nonviolent offenders.
What’s the best way for the state to deal with the unemployment resulting from the coronavirus? Solutions for the future only
The most important thing we can do as legislators is to make sure the public is safe. Once we've set the basic safety and engagement parameters, we can move forward and employ people to work as contact tracers.
As I've previously stated, my two immediate goals are a Colorado Jobs Act and connecting our business community with our two-year colleges for micro-credentials. Before we deal with any of this, we just need to answer the phone! When people reach out to government, they want to know someone is there. Only 6% of the calls to the Dept of Labor are being answered.
Imagine the frustration and anger this creates when you just want to feed your family and keep a roof over your head. We can make government work better for the people, and the government can help people get back on their feet for a better Colorado.