DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers proposed a plan Monday calling for as much as $20 million a year to attract more tech companies and their high-paying jobs to the state.

The first House bill of the new legislative session sparked hope for political cooperation and a renewed focus on the economy.

The legislation aims to grow the bioscience, aerospace, electronics and information technology sectors – and draw high-paying jobs to the state.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper previously said the bill is one of his priorities for the session that starts Wednesday.

The investments can function as a magnet to help bring entrepreneurs to Colorado, he said

Republican leaders said they are open to the idea.

“If that bill creates opportunity for Coloradoans, and we can do it in a cost-effective manner, Republicans will support that,” said GOP House Leader Mark Waller.

Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou is a sponsor of the bill.

Supporters say they want to take advantage of existing research institutions and federal labs in Colorado to spur collaboration with the private sector and lure new jobs.

The program would draw money from the general fund as well as a proposed reworking of an existing tax benefit known as the enterprise zones program, said incoming Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino. He called the proposal a strategic investment in economic development and said the goal is to have as much as $20 million in grant funding available annually.

Grants would range from $150,000 for research and development to $500,000 for infrastructure funding.

The governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade would manage the program.

In the state Senate, tax cuts for parents are the priority for Democrats. President John Morse said he’s sponsoring a series of child-tax credits that could affect more than 370,000 families.

Details were expected Wednesday, when the Legislature convenes for its 120-day session.

– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer

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