Colorado Senator Michael Bennet talks IRA, water infrastructure in Glenwood Springs
Sen. Michael Bennet came to Glenwood Springs on Thursday to rally his support for Elizabeth Velasco, Glenwood Springs resident and democratic candidate for House District 57 and to meet with locals.
“I know the issues in our community, because I’ve lived them,” Velasco said. “When I first moved here, my parents had to work three jobs to pay rent. I was working two jobs to get myself through college. I graduated from CMC and started working in the hotel industry, and at the age of 18, I was managing 200 people as a chef at the Ritz Carlton.”
Velasco also said that she lives in a multigenerational household — something which many in the Roaring Fork Valley do to afford the area’s rising cost of living.
Bennet had two separate meetings in Glenwood Springs on Wednesday. The first with the Latino community and advocacy group Voces Unidas. The second was to meet with local members of the Democratic Party.
While meeting with Voces Unidas in the Latino-owned Local on Cooper, Bennet and Velasco answered questions about quality of life and overall safety of residents during emergencies, especially wildfires.
One resident asked them both about the lack of support for mobile home residents, which included poor water quality, along with less access to electricity and concepts like a safety plan in case of a fire.
Velasco said she plans to make emergency help more accessible and bilingual on both the state and federal levels. She said she wants to help update regulations so they benefit residents more, and she wants to seek partnerships to bring more infrastructure in these areas.
“The mobile home owners, right now, don’t have support,” Velasco said.
Bennet added that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed into law in 2021, provides $8 billion for Western water improvements. Roughly $1 billion of that funding will be allocated for safer water infrastructure in rural parts of Colorado, including mobile home parks.
He said that he realizes how behind Colorado has become on guaranteeing clean water for all on the Western Slope.
“Jack Kennedy went to Pueblo in 1960 and promised that people in southeastern Colorado would benefit from the Arkansas Valley conduit and bring them clean water,” Bennet said. “The first bill I wrote when I became a senator was to begin the process of building it.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was a $1.2 trillion physical infrastructure package that includes $3.3 billion for wildfire related infrastructure.
“The infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction (Act) package does affect billions and billions of dollars, forestry and forest mitigation, watershed protection,” Bennet said. “In the infrastructure package — this is very important for Glenwood Springs — is trying to figure out where we can invest in communities so that there’s not just one way in, one way out.”
The Inflation Reduction Act will also help immensely with drought mitigation in the Colorado River Basin, he added.
“$4 billion is really important for the Colorado River Basin to try to begin to contend with the drought that we’re dealing with,” Bennet said. “So obviously not just Colorado, all the states that are part of the Colorado River Basin.”
Colorado residents should also see benefits at the pharmacist in the coming years, such as price caps, from the Inflation Reduction Act.
“This bill caps out-of-pocket costs to seniors and $2,000 worth of drugs. It requires Medicare for first-time negotiated drug prices on behalf of the American people,” he said. “That’s never happened before. We finally overcame the pharmaceutical industry to be able to do that, and it extends the tax credits for the people who buy health care for another three years.”
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