On a windy Friday afternoon, Brues Ale House in Pueblo was packed with Colorado policy
makers, business community representatives and advocates, and education leaders for the signing of HB-1289.
This new and innovative law will help prepare more Colorado kids for our state’s in-demand jobs, from computer science to advanced manufacturing to healthcare. Colorado Succeeds worked closely with stakeholders from business, education, and government to build support for the bipartisan bill and get it across the finish line in the final days of the 2016 legislative session.
This bill is “a fundamental building block for improving outcomes for kids,” said Ryan McWilliams, a local Pueblo businessman, shortly before introducing Governor John Hickenlooper during Friday’s bill signing. “Education is very important to our community and [this bill] puts hard dollars into a system that needs it.”
McWilliams spoke of his experience working with others in the Pueblo community in rebuilding and revitalizing the downtown area to demonstrate the importance of having a strong and skilled local workforce that not only attracts new businesses but can also fill key jobs within the community.
Governor Hickenlooper expanded on this, touching on how HB-1289 provides a pathway for all students to get relevant skills for our state’s self-sustaining and growing jobs.
We agree, and HB-1289 directly pushes back against the “four-year degree or bust” mentality that has stigmatized career and technical education and pursuit of the skilled trades in recent decades. During the bill signing Governor Hickenlooper commented that there are many industries that serve to benefit from the bill’s model, and the diversity of businesses participating will only continue to grow.
The bill’s four bipartisan sponsors were also in attendance: Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, Representative Daneya Esgar, and Senators Larry Crowder and Leroy Garcia. Their enthusiasm for the day’s festivities was palpable. With strong ties to Pueblo and southern Colorado, all shared how this bill will strengthen communities like Pueblo as well as those across the state.
“We are focused on making sure everyone in Colorado, no matter where you’re born, has access to good-paying jobs,” said Majority Leader Duran. The bill was part of a larger workforce package of bills shepherded by the majority leader and Senate President Bill Cadman. “It is exciting to be here and see Governor Hickenlooper sign into law this victory for Colorado’s students, businesses, and schools. We all benefit when students have access to on the job training and opportunities to succeed.”
With HB-1289 officially law, now the real work begins. We look forward to working closely with the business community, state education leaders, and schools and districts to make sure they have the tools they need to begin piloting these programs. We will also work to make sure that Colorado’s rural and low-income students are priority beneficiaries of this law.