Common Sense Digest
SPECIAL EPISODE: Affordable and Accessible Child Care: Colorado’s Workforce Challenge

SPECIAL EPISODE: Affordable and Accessible Child Care: Colorado’s Workforce Challenge

July 22, 2022

This special episode of Common Sense Digest is brought to you by Colorado Politics and the Denver Gazette and hosted by Common Sense Institute and EPIC.

The high cost of child care acts as a barrier for parents, particularly women, seeking to return to the workforce, exacerbating Colorado’s labor shortage. Join industry experts and policymakers in exploring ways to create better access to quality and affordable child care for working families.

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SPECIAL EPISODE: Eggs & the Economy - Affordability

SPECIAL EPISODE: Eggs & the Economy - Affordability

June 24, 2022

The following is a special episode of Common Sense Digest. On June 21, 2022, Common Sense Institute hosted Eggs & The Economy, a quarterly symposium featuring guest speakers on a variety of public policy issues highlighting the most pressing issues Colorado is currently facing. Our most recent event featured discussed the issue of affordability in Colorado. This podcast captured audio from the event in full, and features remarks from Chairman of the Board Earl Wright, and the following panelists:

Senior Economist Steven Byers

Mike A. Leprino Fellow Evelyn Lim

Vice President of Policy & Research Chris Brown

Representative of Colorado’s 35th District Shannon Bird

Luigi Del Puerto, Managing Editor of Colorado Politics (Moderator)

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What Makes a Great City? featuring Mayor John Suthers and Councilman Dustin Zvonek

What Makes a Great City? featuring Mayor John Suthers and Councilman Dustin Zvonek

June 24, 2022

The state of Colorado is facing a housing affordability crisis, inflation, dealing with soaring crime rates, and homelessness. The list of challenges Coloradans are facing is daunting. But across our great state local leaders are digging in, rising to the challenge and coming up with innovative ways to create opportunity for their residents.

On this episode of Common Sense Digest, Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes Mayor of Colorado Springs John Suthers and Aurora City Councilman Dustin Zvonek to the show to discuss how each municipality is approaching the complex and intermingling challenges of housing affordability, homelessness, crime, economic opportunity and much more. They share ideas, opportunities and roadblocks to the creation of cities in which we all thrive, prosper and find happiness in the face of wicked problems and entrenched thinking. It's a wide ranging and informative conversation featuring two leaders working to shape the future of two of Colorado's most prominent cities.

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John Suthers was re-elected to a second term as Mayor of Colorado Springs by an overwhelming majority in April of 2019. Before being elected Mayor, Suthers served as Attorney General of Colorado from 2005 to 2015. Under Suthers' leadership, the Colorado Attorney General's office earned a national reputation for excellence. Prior to being Attorney General, he was named by President George W. Bush in 2001 to be United States Attorney for Colorado and he was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. In 1999, Suthers was appointed by Governor Bill Owens as Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, based in Colorado Springs. In that position, he managed an organization with 6,000 employees and a budget in excess of $500 million.

In 1988, he was elected District Attorney of the 4th Judicial District, which includes El Paso and Teller Counties.

The 41st mayor of Colorado Springs, Suthers’ first term began in May of 2015. Dustin Zvonek is the President and founder of Zvonek Consulting, an executive management consulting firm, and a Partner and Senior Advisor at Rising Cloud, a first to market tech start-up. Dustin was elected to the Aurora City Council in November of 2021 to a four-year term as an At-Large Member. On Council, Dustin is currently the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee and the Vice Chairman of the Planning and Economic Development Committee. Dustin also serves as the Chairman of the Red Tape Reduction Committee and is a member of the Management and Finance committee.

Unpacking the Colorado and Arizona Housing Markets with Glenn Farley and Steven Byers

Unpacking the Colorado and Arizona Housing Markets with Glenn Farley and Steven Byers

June 3, 2022

Housing prices are frequently at the forefront of policy discussions because they impact so many other aspects of the economy. On this episode of Common Sense Digest, Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes CSI Arizona's Director of Policy & Research Glenn Farley, CSI's Senior Economist Steven Byers to discuss the housing markets in Arizona and Colorado, respectively. They dive deep into what led us to the current situation, attempt to forecast where things are headed, and prescribe their fixes for bringing the cost of housing down. Whether it's talent recruitment and retainment, the overall health of the economy, or personal wealth building, this is an episode that has implications for all.

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Glenn Farley is CSI Arizona’s Director of Policy & Research. For the past eight years he has worked in the Office of the Arizona Governor, most recently as Gov. Doug Ducey’s Chief Economist and a policy advisor. In that role he advised on issues of tax, fiscal, and regulatory policy, and was one of the Governor’s lead architects of his two major tax reforms – the 2018 tax overhaul that established the State’s first remote sellers sales tax and dedicated the proceeds to a major simplification and overhaul of the individual income tax, followed by the 2021 income tax omnibus which phased in a 2.50% flat tax (the lowest in the country).

Steven Byers, Ph.D. is the new Senior Economist for Common Sense Institute. Prior to joining CSI Steven spent three years working for the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nonprofit organization consisting of manufacturing, agricultural, labor, consumer, and citizen interest groups, where he conducted research on the U.S. economy, international trade, and tariffs. Highlights of this research include a paper titled, “Decoupling from China – An Economic Analysis of the Impact on the U.S. Economy of a Permanent Tariff on Chinese Imports” for which he and a co-author won the National Association for Business Economics Edmund A. Mennis Contributed Paper Award.

The Wicked Problem of Fentanyl in Colorado featuring George Brauchler and Mitch Morrissey

The Wicked Problem of Fentanyl in Colorado featuring George Brauchler and Mitch Morrissey

June 2, 2022

In April of 2022, Common Sense Institute released a report titled Fentanyl’s Increasing Toll on the Colorado Economy which detailed the evolution of the opioid crisis, the 2019 legislation that exacerbated the problems of the opioid crisis, and highlighted the unique deadliness of fentanyl in particular. 

On this episode of Common Sense Digest, Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes CSI's Criminal Justice Fellows George Brauchler and Mitch Morrissey to discuss these issues in much more depth. Mitch and George detail their extensive history in how drug possession cases were handled prior to 2019, discuss the problems they perceive the recently passed and signed HB22-1326 "Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention" to have, why they think the problem will get worse before it gets better and much more. This episode is a fascinating deep dive into the world of criminal justice, and drug laws specfically.

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George Brauchler served as the elected District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District (JD), Colorado’s most populous district, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties, from 2013-2021. As a state prosecutor, he handled the felony cases from the Columbine High School mass shooting case, the Aurora Theater (Batman) mass shooting case, and recently, the STEM Academy school mass shooting case.

Mitch Morrissey was the elected District Attorney of Denver, Colorado from November 2004 until January 2017. Prior to 2004, Mitch was a trial lawyer in the Denver District Attorney’s office. Mitch is internationally recognized for his expertise in DNA technology, applying that technology in criminal prosecutions, and working to ensure that DNA science is admissible in court. He has trained law enforcement officers and prosecutors throughout the United States, in the Middle East, in Central America, and Canada.

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Aging Workforce featuring Karen Brown and Alexa Eastburg

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Aging Workforce featuring Karen Brown and Alexa Eastburg

May 6, 2022

In celebration of Older Americans Month, Common Sense Digest explores the topic of Colorado’s aging workforce and the impact it will have on our state’s future. Older Americans Month is an annual event dating back to 1963, when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month, later renamed Older Americans Month, honoring older Americans, and celebrating their contributions to our communities and our nation. If you’d like to learn more about Older Americans Month, visit Administration for Community Living.

Pertinent to this discussion is the recent CSI report: Colorado’s Future: The Impact of an Aging Workforce. Chairman and Host Earl Wright welcomes the report's co-authors, Karen Brown, CEO and Ambassador of iAging and Aging2.0
Denver Chapter and Alexa Eastburg, Research Analyst with Common Sense Institute. They discuss their remarkable findings about the current labor shortage, the projected increase in older workers, what the government, corporations and individuals can do about it, and attempt to project a path for the future. It's an episode that impacts business in every single sector, so these insights are germane across industries.

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Karen Brown CEO and Ambassador of iAging and Aging2.0 Denver Chapter, a catalyst for Gerontechnology and "Think Different" Aging Solutions. An advocate for the aging population with a mission to seek out, promote and assist in the development and funding of innovations and technologies that improve the lives of seniors, their caregivers, families, and society as a whole. 

Alexa Eastburg is a Research Analyst with Common Sense Institute. She graduated from Coe College in May of 2021 with a B.A. in Economics, Managerial Accounting, and Business Administration. She is a Research Analyst at Common Sense Institute. Her experience covers analyzing workforce, crime, and education issues in the state of Colorado.

The Outstanding Debts of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and PERA featuring Loren Furman and Chris Brown

The Outstanding Debts of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and PERA featuring Loren Furman and Chris Brown

May 2, 2022

The topic of the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund has come up many different times in CSI’s work, including a previous episode of this show. Yet despite the tremendous amount of attention on the issue from external parties and business leaders, Colorado remains 1 of only 9 states with an outstanding federal loan balance to the US treasury, that was used to support the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund which went insolvent in August of 2020. That balance is just over $1B.

In 2020 legislators chose to not make the $225M payment to PERA required under SB18-200. A current bill under consideration proposes to make up for that missed payment plus the lost investment returns.  Though not as substantive a transfer as we discussed in previous episode, this would go far in reducing some of the pending risk to taxpayers and PERA members. (found here). 

With the 2022 legislative session winding down, Common Sense Digest welcomes Loren Furman, President & CEO of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, and Chris Brown, CSI's Vice President of Policy & Research, on the show to discuss both issues. Host and Chairman Earl Wright presses both Loren and Chris about the current status of both UI Trust Fund and PERA, the three discuss proposed fixes currently before the legislature, and what to expect going forward.

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Loren Furman was named President & CEO of the Colorado Chamber on January 1, 2022. Prior to becoming President, she served as the Chamber’s Senior Vice President of State & Federal Relations since 2008 and led the Chamber’s engagement on all State and Federal governmental issues that affect businesses statewide. In that role she was the primary spokesperson for the organization, and as a member of the leadership team, was actively involved in operational issues including hiring and communications strategies, membership, and strategic approaches for the organization.

The Realities and Pitfalls of the Presumed Energy Transition featuring Chris Wright and Evelyn Lim

The Realities and Pitfalls of the Presumed Energy Transition featuring Chris Wright and Evelyn Lim

April 8, 2022

A substantial portion of United States policymakers and citizens tout an accelerated "energy transition" away from fossil fuels. But what does this mean? What would it entail? What are the costs associated with such a transition? And is a transition even practical or realistic? Even if the United States (or the world) were to transition away from fossil fuels entirely for electricity generation, in what other ways do fossil fuels play an integral role in modern living? These questions and many more are answered in this episode of Common Sense Digest.

Chairman and Host of Common Sense Institute Earl Wright welcomes Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Liberty Oilfield Services Chris Wright and 2022 Mike A. Leprino Fellow & 2021 Terry J. Stevinson Fellow Evelyn Lim to the show to discuss the multiple factors at play regarding an energy transition. The three touch on issues including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the state of permitting and exports in the United States, regulatory policy in the country and in Colorado specifically, and the ways in which fossil fuels impact our lives beyond electricity generation. For more illustrative information on these topics and more, please review Evelyn Lim's "Colorado Faces Economic, Technological, and Even Geopolitical Barriers to Meeting Its Aggressive Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Goals" and Liberty Energy's "Bettering Human Lives: 2020 ESG Report"

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Chris Wright serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Liberty Oilfield Services.  Additionally, Chris founded and serves as Executive Chairman of Liberty Resources, a Bakken-focused E&P company and Liberty Midstream Solutions. He has had a lifelong passion for energy and its role in human life. He has spoken on energy to the UK House of Lords, the States Attorneys General, Federal and State Judges, debated the merits of the shale revolution on TV and given over 100 talks.

Evelyn Lim is the 2022 Mike A. Leprino Fellow & 2021 Terry J. Stevinson Fellow, and she is the Director of Policy and Research at the American Cornerstone Institute.  She was most recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Regional Administrator for Region 8 which covers Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. In March 2020, she was detailed to Secretary Carson’s office to lead HUD’s coronavirus relief efforts and support the Secretary in his role on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  Prior to her appointment at HUD, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the third largest federal cabinet agency with over 240,000 law enforcement, military, and civilian employees.

SPECIAL EPISODE: Eggs & the Economy on Crime

SPECIAL EPISODE: Eggs & the Economy on Crime

March 29, 2022
On March 29, 2022, Common Sense Institute hosted Eggs & the Economy. Eggs & the Economy is a quarterly symposium featuring guest speakers on a variety of public policy issues. At each event, CSI highlights the most pressing issues Colorado is currently facing. This is an opportunity for CSI to share current research, as well as hear from dignitaries and the experts working on them. The purpose of this event is to inform lawmakers and Coloradans so that they can make informed decisions with fact-based research.
 

At this quarter's event, we dove into the crime wave hitting Colorado and featured a panel of experts to discuss its many aspects. This podcast captured audio from the event in full, and features remarks from President & CEO of CSI Kristin Strohm, and the following attendees:

George Brauchler, Criminal Justice Fellow

Mitch Morrissey, Criminal Justice Fellow

Dave Hayes, Police Chief, City of Louisville

Jon Haubert, Publisher, ColoradoBiz Magazine (Moderator)

Thanks to our generous event sponsor: Amazon

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The Key Issues Facing Arizona as CSI Expands featuring Glenn Farley

The Key Issues Facing Arizona as CSI Expands featuring Glenn Farley

March 21, 2022

In Part 1 of our series about Common Sense Institute's expansion into Arizona (Common Sense Institute Announces Its Expansion Into Arizona), we discussed why Arizona was chosen for expansion, introduced you to our Board Chair and Strategic Advisor, and discussed briefly some of the issues facing Arizona. 

In Part 2, Chairman and Host Earl Wright is joined primarily by Glenn Farley, former Chief Economist for Governor Doug Ducey. Glenn discusses with Earl everything from drought to workforce development to housing prices as he provides a snapshot of the opportunities and challenges of Arizona's present and future. He also discusses the need for non-partisan, evidence-based research in crafting sound public policy. It is a stimulating conversation that will provide any listener with a solid understanding of the lay of the land of Arizona. 

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