Julie McCluskie in her own words: House District 13 Democrat candidate works by ‘promises made, promises kept’ method of policy making | SkyHiNews.com

Julie McCluskie in her own words: House District 13 Democrat candidate works by ‘promises made, promises kept’ method of policy making

Representative Julie McCluskie will represent Grand County as the new representative of House District 13.
Julie McCluskie/Courtesy Photo

Name: Julie McCluskie
Occupation: Representative for Colorado House of Representatives District 61
Place of residence: Dillon
Length of residence in Summit County: 21 years

Why are you qualified to work with rural communities like Grand County?

I am qualified to represent rural communities like Grand County, because I know what it takes to live, work and raise a family in Colorado’s High Country. My husband and I moved to Summit County more than 21 years ago and can truly say we consider ourselves locals. That’s not an easy badge to earn, but after a dozen years working for Summit School District, volunteering in the community and raising our children, Summit County is truly our home.

Having also served as the State Representative for House District 61 (which includes Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin and Summit counties) for the last four years, I am well versed in the challenges facing our rural and rural resort communities. Challenges like access to affordable workforce housing, health care and child care. In my first term, I served on the Rural Affairs & Agriculture Committee which gave me the opportunity to work on issues specific to rural parts of our state. I’ve championed funding for rural economic development organizations, passed legislation that has made health insurance more affordable on the Western Slope, prioritized funding for rural schools, and so much more.

I’ve spent time listening and learning from my constituents, and I am committed to this same practice as I meet the people in Grand and the other counties of House District 13.

How will you make sure Grand County gets its fair share of money and attention for matters like mental health care, early childhood education, Colorado River water conservation and wildfire mitigation?

As chair of the Joint Budget Committee, I am in a unique position to lead bipartisan efforts crafting the state’s budget. This has included prioritizing tens of millions of dollars in funding for Colorado’s water plan, far exceeding past annual investments. On the heels of Colorado’s worst fire season on record in 2020, the legislature passed significant investments in wildfire mitigation, suppression and recovery, and we prioritized funding for watershed recovery specifically with the East Troublesome area in mind.

I have focused on improving rural education and health care services, like those we see in Grand County. I carried the bill that referred Proposition EE to the voters and was passed with strong voter support in 2020. Funding from this measure will now support universal preschool for 4-year-olds starting in July 2023, and has already delivered a total of $90 million specifically for our rural schools. 

I carried Colorado’s reinsurance bill that brought down health insurance premiums on the individual marketplace for those of us on the Western Slope by 36% and co-sponsored legislation that capped the price of insulin. Our rural hospitals are receiving $10 million in support for critical one-time needs and we expanded tax credits for rural health care leaders who train and mentor medical students — both bills I sponsored this year.

Additionally, on the housing front, I worked with Habitat for Humanity and other housing advocates to incentivize workforce housing projects by eliminating barriers to development (HB21-1271). Forty-five counties and municipalities have received the first round of planning grants through this legislation, including communities here in Grand County. I also co-sponsored legislation that will deliver $90 million to rural and rural resort communities for affordable housing projects (HB22-1304).

Please name three issues at the top of your legislative to-do list.

  1. Making affordability a priority: Workforce and senior housing — while we have made great progress on making housing affordable in the High Country, there is more to do. I am planning on carrying legislation to establish a data collection system to accurately identify vacation rentals/short-term rentals and ensure compliance with local rules and regulations.
  2. Ensuring Student Success: School funding — as chair of the School Finance Committee, I am working with Democrats and Republicans to create a more equitable and student-centered school funding formula and continue our march to pay off the budget stabilization factor.
  3. Protecting our Colorado Lands: Water and wildfire — With the significant threats posed by climate change, I will continue to protect Colorado’s water resources, and drive more funding to wildfire mitigation, prevention and suppression. While we paid for new personal protective equipment for our smaller and volunteer firefighting departments this past year, we need to focus on sustainable funding for Colorado’s fire departments.

Why should Grand County residents trust you?

There’s a saying: “promises made, promises kept.” That statement is true when voters consider my goals and achievements these past four years. Each term, I set goals according to my constituents’ hopes and I have accomplished many of them. I plan to continue this fight over the next two years. For example, I worked with Summit County’s local leaders on a reinsurance policy prior to first being elected, and passed that legislation during my first term in office. 

I believe trust is also built when we invest ourselves in working directly with people inside and outside of the Capitol. I have a strong open door policy and welcome communication from those that agree and disagree with my policy perspectives. Open communication is critical to our success at the state level, and I look forward to building working relationships with local elected leaders and constituents in the Grand County communities.

Please name a couple of issues that you will work particularly hard to cross party lines on, and how you plan to get support from your opposition.

I frequently partner with Republicans on bills I carry. Some of the most significant examples of these bills include reinsurance (HB19-1168), local firefighter safety resources (HB22-1194), and in-state tuition for Colorado high school graduates (HB22-1155). Success in the legislature depends on strong partnerships and relationships with constituents and colleagues. I’ve built these relationships with many Republicans on the Western Slope and rural Colorado, and I will continue to do so with my new Republican peers. 

I believe our priority issues on the affordability of housing, health care and childcare, and protecting our magnificent Colorado environment deserve input from voices on all sides. I will not waiver in my efforts to continue working in the legislature in a bipartisan way.

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