Last name: Julie McCluskie
Occupation: Representative for District 61 of the Colorado House of Representatives
Place of residence: Dillon
Duration of Residence in Summit County: 21 years old
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 the High Country of Colorado. My husband and I moved to Summit County over 21 years ago and can truly say that we consider ourselves locals. It’s not an easy badge to earn, but after a dozen years of working for the Summit School District, volunteering in the community, and raising our children, Summit County truly is our home.
Having also served as the State Representative for House 61 District (which includes Delta, Gunnison, Lake, Pitkin, and Summit counties) for the past four years, I know well the challenges facing our rural resort communities. and rural. Challenges like access to affordable housing for the workforce, health care and childcare. During my first term, I served on the Committee on Rural Affairs and Agriculture, which gave me the opportunity to work on issues specific to rural areas of our state. I championed funding for rural economic development organizations, passed legislation that made health insurance more affordable on the West Slope, prioritized funding for rural schools, and much more.
I have spent time listening and learning from my constituents, and I am committed to this same practice when I meet the residents of Grand and other counties in District 13 of House.
How will you ensure that Grand County receives its fair share of money and attention for issues such as mental health care, early childhood education, Colorado River water conservation and the forest fire mitigation?
As chair of the Joint Budget Committee, I am in a unique position to lead bipartisan state budgeting efforts. This has included prioritizing tens of millions of dollars in funding for Colorado’s water feature, 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 fire recovery. watersheds, especially with the East Troublesome area in mind.
I focused on improving rural education and health services, like the ones we see in Grand County. I carried the bill that returned the EE proposal to voters and was passed with strong voter support in 2020. Funding for this measure will now support universal early childhood education for 4-year-olds starting in July 2023, and has already provided a total of $90 million. specifically for our rural schools.
I carried the Colorado reinsurance bill that lowered individual market health insurance premiums by 36% for those of us on the West Slope 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 have expanded tax credits for rural health care leaders who train and mentor medical students – the two bills I sponsored this year.
Additionally, on the housing front, I have worked with Habitat for Humanity and other housing advocates to encourage workforce housing projects by removing barriers to development (HB21-1271). Forty-five counties and municipalities received the first round of planning grants through this legislation, including communities here in Grand County. I also co-sponsored legislation that will provide $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.
- Making Affordability a Priority: Workforce and Senior Housing — While we’ve made great strides in making housing affordable in the High Country, there’s still a long way to go. I plan to pass legislation to establish a data collection system to accurately identify vacation rentals/short term rentals and ensure compliance with local rules and regulations.
- Ensuring Student Success: School Funding – As Chair of the School Finance Committee, I am working with Democrats and Republicans to create a more equitable, student-centered school funding formula and continue our march to repay the fiscal stabilization factor.
- Protecting Our Colorado Lands: Water and Wildfires — With the significant threats posed by climate change, I will continue to protect Colorado’s water resources and raise more funds for fire mitigation, prevention, and suppression of forest. Although we paid for new personal protective equipment for our small volunteer fire departments last year, we need to focus on sustainably funding Colorado’s fire departments.
Why should Grand County residents trust you?
There is a saying: “promises made, promises kept”. This statement holds true when voters consider my goals and accomplishments over the past four years. During each mandate, I set myself objectives based on the hopes of my fellow citizens and I accomplished several of them. I plan to continue this fight over the next two years. For example, I worked with local leaders in Summit County on reinsurance policy before I was first elected and passed this legislation during my first term.
I believe that trust is also built when we invest ourselves in working directly with people inside and outside the Capitol. I have a strong open door policy and welcome submissions from those who agree and disagree with my political outlook. Open communication is critical to our success at the state level, and I look forward to building working relationships with local elected officials and constituents in Grand County communities.
Please name a few issues on which you will work particularly hard to cross party lines, and how you plan to gain support from your opposition.
I often partner with Republicans on the bills I carry. Some of the most significant examples of these bills include Reinsurance (HB19-1168), Local Fire Safety Resources (HB22-1194), and In-State Tuition for Colorado High School Graduates (HB22-1155 ). Success in the Legislative Assembly depends on strong partnerships and relationships with constituents and colleagues. I have built these relationships with many Republicans on the West Slope and rural Colorado, and will continue to do so with my new Republican peers.
I believe that our priority issues of housing affordability, health care and child care, and the protection of our beautiful Colorado environment deserve input from all parties. I will not give up on my efforts to continue to work in the Legislative Assembly in a bipartisan manner.
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