Investing in Rural Communities to Make All of Colorado Stronger

Even though Colorado has been a national leader in growth, job creation, and innovation during Michael’s time in the Senate, too many rural communities have not shared fully in that success. Michael believes our nation’s long-term prosperity depends on a thriving rural America and that we have an obligation to support locally-driven efforts to maintain the health and heritage of Colorado’s rural communities. 

Michael supported the bipartisan infrastructure law to make historic investments in our rural communities so they can thrive for generations. Specifically, the bill will deliver affordable, high-speed internet, safe roads and bridges, modern wastewater systems, clean drinking water, reliable and affordable electricity, and good-paying jobs to every rural community in Colorado. 

Every year, Michael introduces legislation to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, which supports schools, roads, bridges, and emergency services in 43 Colorado counties. He also helped secure full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program so Colorado counties can carry out vital services like fire and police protection, school construction, and road maintenance.

Michael understands that high-speed, affordable broadband is essential to succeed in the 21st century economy, but too many rural communities are unable to access reliable internet. In response, Michael wrote the most significant bipartisan broadband legislation in Congress with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Angus King (I-ME) to provide flexible funding to states and Tribal governments to deploy affordable, high-speed broadband in unserved communities nationwide. Michael’s legislation also increased choice and competition by making a broader range of entities eligible for funding under the bill. The bipartisan infrastructure law adapted Michael’s BRIDGE Act to make the single largest federal investment in broadband, resulting in roughly $500 million for Colorado to close the digital divide.

Colorado’s coal communities have been hit hard economically by a long-term decline in coal demand that has accelerated over the last decade. Michael has introduced legislation that would create a long-term sustainable source of funding for communities that have historically relied on revenue from fossil fuel energy extraction and production to support their transition planning, economic development and diversification, capacity building, and core public services. He also supports providing critical resources and training opportunities to assist workers whose jobs are affected by the energy industry's move toward cleaner sources.