Top state and elected officials talk with members about paying down or off $1 billion in federal loans
In an exclusive conference call with NFIB members, Sen. Rob Woodward was the latest elected official to discuss the crisis facing small-business owners if the state doesn’t get a grip on the loans it has outstanding with the federal government. Loans it took out to keep unemployment checks going out.
In December, Sen. Chris Hansen, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, gave his thoughts on how the state might pay down or off the more than $1 billion in loans it took from the federal government to keep its unemployment insurance trust fund running.
In January, Patrick Meyers, chief economic recovery officer and executive director of the state’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade, and Daniel Salvetti, strategy and analytics manager for OEDIT, in another exclusive conference call for NFIB members, provided an update on the current condition of the trust fund and Gov. Jared Polis’ proposal to the Legislature.
But for Woodward, calling the problem a crisis is understating it. “If there were an economic downturn tomorrow, we have no money in the bank to pay unemployment. Sorry, unemployed, go to the soup line because the state of Colorado can’t take care of you. The state of Colorado has no money to meet its obligations. How can they [the unemployed] put food on the table for their families.”
After detailing how Colorado got to this point with its trust fund, Woodward said there is a perfect solution. Paying off the entire balance “is a perfect use of one-time money [referring to the federal ARPA funds combined with the state’s own budget surplus] to bring us back to where we were before [the pandemic]. Let’s pay off the credit card,” which is what his Senate Bill 22-066 calls for.
Answering one NFIB member’s question about who might share most of the blame for the current predicament [Colorado is one of only nine states without outstanding UI loans], Woodward was quick to single out who was most definitely not at fault. “The truth of it is we know the reason we are in this bind today is through no fault of business. Our state was hit with a virus, and it was the decision by public health officials, by the administration that … were the direct correlation to the problem.”
Click the graphic below to listen to Senator Woodward’s February 1 remarks to NFIB members.
“We’ve now have had top Democrat and Republic lawmakers and two top state officials talk to our members,” said NFIB Colorado State Director Tony Gagliardi. “This highlights, I believe, one of the better values in NFIB membership: The opportunity we provide small-business owners to hear directly from and talk directly to the people making the policies affecting the solvency of their enterprises.”