How Competitive Is Colorado?

November 18 2009, 11:03 AM
Compared to nearby states, Colorado is falling behind when it comes to winning new jobs that increase earnings, according to a new report, "Toward a More Competitive Colorado," by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The report isn't all doom and gloom, however. It's meant to nudge forward a state that aspires to have it all. Consider: Colorado is the leanest state in the nation (an indicator of health), high school students rank number one in SAT/ACT scores, and just one other state boasts more college degrees. But investments made in the late 1980s have run their course, and Colorado could enter an era of complacency if officials aren't careful, notes The Denver Post. Among the challenges are low funding levels for higher education (Colorado is 47th nationally) and sagging high school graduation rates (Colorado is 29th). Moreover, personal income is showing signs of slipping, falling from eighth in the nation to 13th in recent years. "There is a soft underbelly in the Colorado economy," Metro Denver EDC Vice President Tom Clark tells the Denver Business Journal. "After five years, over 60 percent of our measures have either not changed or gone in the wrong direction." The analysis comes as the state struggles financially. A new report by the Pew Center points to Colorado's restrictive tax policies, including the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (via the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel). As for education, Governor Bill Ritter, in a letter to the Colorado Springs Gazette, explains that progress is never easy---even in good times: "It's even harder in difficult times like these. Families and businesses all across Colorado are tightening their belts. Working with the legislature, I've closed shortfalls of $2 billion to keep the state budget balanced. We're all making tough choices."