Candidate: Chris Hansen
Contest: Senate District 31
Occupation/City: renewable energy nonprofit director, Denver
Chris Hansen was elected to the House in 2016, and appointed to the Senate in early 2020. He works on renewable energy, and has a Ph.D. from Oxford and a masters from MIT.
The following questions were asked only of 2020 primary candidates. Not all candidates responded.
Why are you running for office?
I’m running for office because I love this state, and want to continue to serve the people of Colorado with a focus on addressing our structural budget problems and tackling the climate crisis. The impact that legislators are able to have on their community and our state is a privilege, and one I do not take for granted. Every day I walk into the Capitol I am grateful and humbled by the work that the voters have trusted me to do, and I am driven by the opportunity to make tangible, beneficial change in people’s lives. In the past four years of holding elected office, I have been proud of the work that my colleagues and I have been able to accomplish, and I hope to get the opportunity to continue this work for four more years in the State Senate.
What Colorado issue is most important to you and how will you address it?
My number one priority is tackling climate change. Climate change is an enormously complex and multi-dimensional problem that will require coordinated action and diversified approaches to solve. It is imperative that we not only leave a better planet for our children, but also use this opportunity to lift up marginalized communities and transition into a more resilient, just, carbon-free economy that works for all of us. My decades-long background in energy & environmental policy and a PhD in this area has provided me with the tools to address this issue from many different angles and simultaneously work to decarbonize our transportation, building, commerce, and energy sectors, while also working to educate about the benefits of environmental stewardship and economic resiliency. Finally, I enjoy working on climate change legislation because it allows me to engage with a diverse stakeholder group including labor, utilities, transit companies, various government departments and community groups.
How should the state deal with the budget crisis - be specific in terms of programs and dollars. What should be cut, what should be preserved?
We cannot allow any cuts to public education funding. Our schools already face a $560 million annual shortfall (negative factor) and we have more than half of the districts in the state on four day school weeks. I believe we can make temporary cuts for capital development and new construction projects as well as suspending state supplemental payments into PERA. We can also make longer term cuts in the Department of Corrections by reducing recidivism. Finally, I believe there are huge savings available by moving more state funded medical costs to telemedicine, which is more efficient in many cases.
What’s the best way for the state to deal with the unemployment resulting from the coronavirus? Solutions for the future only.
First, we must support workers that have lost their jobs by strengthening the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, and I have just introduced a bill to address the UI system. Second, we must provide targeted tax relief for working families and I am pushing to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to do just that. Third, we need to stabilize property tax rates to help fund our schools and improve opportunities for small business development, which will both support the recovery of our economy and help get people back to work. I am a prime sponsor of the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment to accomplish this goal.
Describe the most important distinctions between you and your primary opponent.
The primary distinction I have observed is one of expertise and approach: I believe in making real, tangible progress towards our goals--like my work on the Joint Budget Committee and the climate crisis. This is why I have worked to pass the nation’s strongest regulations on the oil and gas industry, and it’s why I sponsored the legislation to end coal-fired power plants in Colorado. My opponent shares my passion on the issue, but not my approach. When I was elected four years ago, if I had spent my time insisting on the abolition of all fossil fuels, I never would have gotten a bill passed. No progress would have been made. No emissions would have been cut. Instead, I have dedicated my efforts to pass nation-leading climate legislation, where real progress can be made and real lives can be improved.