A woman who is struggling to make ends meet for her family. A young woman headed to college. A woman who wants to start her own business. These are the stories that will be affected by the Colorado State budget. I sat down with one elected leader Representative Crisanta Duran who understands the barriers that woman face and feels the Colorado State budget is a clear victory for Colorado girls and women.
Q: How does it feel to be the youngest woman to Chair the Joint Budget Committee and the first Latina?
A: It's not easy! To me, the most important achievement I could make in this role is ensuring that I'm not the last. It is not enough to be the "first," but more important to push policies that ensure more Colorado girls and women can realize their full potential.
Q: The 2014 session is now wrapping up, what is your proudest moment?
A: Creating a budget that removes barriers for Colorado women.
Q: How will those changes affect people's lives?
A: A few ways, Women are more likely to face economic insecurity so we looked a specific costs that can help them in their day to day lives.
Like making child care more affordable for Colorado families. Colorado was recently ranked fifth for the most expensive childcare in the country.
Without access, many Colorado women find it difficult to hold onto their jobs or advance in their careers. High childcare costs combined with low incomes contribute to the struggle between family and work life.
We have expanded the state's childcare income tax credit and reformed the Colorado Child Care Assistance program so access to quality and affordable childcare is not out of reach for working families.
Q: Childcare is not the only barrier that women face, tell me more about how the budget will make life better for Colorado women.
A: Whether one owns their own business or works for a large company, women continue to seek opportunities that will enable them to have access to good paying jobs. We prioritized funding efforts to prohibit gender discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.
We developed a statewide plan for the promotion of women-owned businesses; and, invested in higher education at a historical level while creating more job training opportunities. These efforts are particularly necessary since in 2007, women owned 29 percent of the businesses in Colorado, which is a lower proportion than in 1992 when women owned 38 percent of businesses in the state.
Q: Tell me how the budget keeps women safe, and healthy.
A: When it comes to health we made investments in a plan to reduce child abuse; more access to family planning and prenatal services.
I take personal safety very seriously, that's why I think it is essential to provide services for women to be safe. The budget provides for pro-bono legal services for victims of domestic violence. This investment is important because domestic violence continues to undermine the economic security and safety of many women in girls in Colorado. In 2011, Colorado's 46 domestic violence crisis centers served 34,685 clients, which represent an increase from 2010, when 28,132 clients were served.
Last but not least, we made significant investments to continue and develop statewide mental health services for those in need. More than one in six girls have seriously considered committing suicide. Latina middle and high school students are substantially more likely than non-Latinas to report having a plan to commit suicide, attempted suicide or sustained an injury due to a suicide attempt.
Q: Now that the budget is passed, how quickly will Colorado women see the difference?
A: Over the next few months' families will be receiving more education on these issues. While I feel that those changes are great and the Colorado Budget is a great victory for Colorado women and girls, there is still work to do.