Tuesday, March 1, 2011

News from your Colorado State Senator Mary Hodge

Can you believe that it’s March and we’re having 60 degree days? We are blessed to live in Colorado!

Tax time: free tax preparation

If you earned less than $49,000 in 2010, you may be able to have your taxes prepared for free. To find a location near you where an IRS-certified tax preparer can help you file your tax return at no cost, call 2-1-1 or http://www.piton.org/taxsites
Coming Soon: Girls With Goals Day!

When we discovered that the fastest-growing incarcerated population in Colorado is girls ages 12 to 17, and the fastest-growing population of people living in poverty is children, we felt motivated to be a small part of the solution. So in light of these disturbing statistics and in honor of Women’s History Month in March, we decided to celebrate what it means to be a girl in Colorado with our first ever Girls With Goals Day at the Capitol. Currently, we lead the nation in the percentage of women in the legislature with 41 out of 100 seats held by women. Our goal is to increase civic participation and knowledge of the legislative process, while at the same time giving girls an understanding that they can choose to be great.

We have invited 35 girls from across the state to come and experience what politics is all about… Colorado style! Each girl will have the opportunity to be “sworn in” as a “youth senator for the day,” shadow her senator in the Senate chamber for the day’s legislative proceedings, hear from different child advocacy organizations and leaders, and debate “bills” that they proposed themselves.

I’m so excited to meet the student from my district. Her name is Sydney B. and she attends Northeast Elementary in Brighton .

Finding savings for our schools

Forbes recently ranked the Denver metro area 8th on its list of “Top Ten Brain Magnets” in the country. That means Colorado does a good job of attracting well-educated residents, which makes sense because our state offers a high quality of life and has an educated, healthy population. We aim to preserve this standard by consistently improving our education system and thereby building a stronger economy and attracting more businesses and people who call Colorado home.

Unfortunately, the current economy has left Colorado with a $1 billion budget shortfall, causing reductions to every state agency, including education. To learn how your school district may be affected, check out this map. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=215430347445017792548.00049ce4018f6c52b1028&z=6

In light of this shortfall, we are exploring every conceivable option to lessen the blow of the inevitable cuts to education in the 2011-12 budget. This week, Senate President Brandon Shaffer directed all Senate committee chairs to search for savings in any of the state agencies their respective committee oversees so we can direct more dollars to the classroom.

We will continue to focus on elevating the quality of education we provide. Education lays the foundation for every Coloradan to achieve his or her potential, and it is imperative for building an active and productive citizenry that can compete in an international economy. To that end, we will consider a variety of education-related bills in an effort to build a world-class education system in Colorado :

My upcoming town halls:
Wednesday, March 16, 6:00 p.m., Brighton IHOP, 4th & Bromley, Brighton
Saturday, March 19, 8:30 a.m., Lions Community Room, 1100 Colfax, Bennet

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