DENVER – Today, the Colorado General Assembly concluded a special legislative session that failed to provide honest property tax relief, or expand protections to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Refund dollars for the people of Colorado, and instead sent legislation to the Governor that places the demands of government ahead of the needs and interests of the people. Republicans called the actions “tragically similar to proposition HH,” which was soundly rejected by the voters at the ballot earlier this month.
During this special session, Senate Republicans offered multiple bills that would have delivered honest and meaningful tax relief for the people of Colorado without relying on TABOR refund dollars as a funding mechanism. To reduce the exploding cost of living, the Republican proposal extended tax relief to small businesses. Every Republican proposal was killed by Democrats in committee.
The Senate GOP’s flagship bill, Senate Bill 23B-004, spearheaded by ranking Joint Budget Committee member Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer (R – Weld County) decreased the taxable value of property, expanded the rate reduction by roughly four times the democrats proposal, and included nonresidential property tax relief.
Senate Bill 23B-004 would have also protected local governments by providing a certain financial buffer using existing state reserve funds instead of the TABOR refund using mechanism the Democrat legislation relies upon. The bill would have also given flexibility to local governments by extending critical tax deadlines to meet their obligations.
Senate Bill 23B-004 would have also created a property tax task force to recommend long term taxing solutions to the legislature.
“Saving Coloradans money and reducing their tax burdens should have been the number one priority for this special session,” Senator Kirkmeyer said. “Instead, it looks like the Democrats and Governor Polis used this as an opportunity to score some political points. Our bill was a real and honest solution that would have given the people of Colorado the tax relief they need.”
The caucus also supported a bill, Senate Bill 23B-006, by Senator Kevin Van Winkle (R – Douglas County) that would have capped annual assessment rate increases at 6%. The bill was killed by Democrats on a party-line vote in the Senate Local Government and Housing committee.
“I can’t say I am surprised to see Senate Democrats kill this bill, it was a simple solution that would have given hard working taxpayers and families the relief they needed,” Senator Van Winkle commented. “We are in this mess because assessment rates were allowed to skyrocket. This bill would have simply reigned them back in.”
During debate, Senate Democrats touted the supposed relief that their solution will deliver, but senate Republicans responded with concerns regarding the actual mechanics of the bill. The Democrats’ solution, Senate Bills 23B-001 will use a mechanism created by Senate Bill 22-238 that will backfill local governments using Coloradans’ TABOR refunds, a notion Colorado Republicans, and it is now clear, the vast majority of taxpayers, vehemently oppose.
“Earlier this month, 60% of voters made it crystal they do not want to pay for tiny tax property tax relief with their TABOR refunds,” Minority Leader Lundeen said. “Our solution would have provided substantial relief to Coloradans and flexibility to local governments, all while protecting TABOR. The Democrat legislation sent to the Governor puts government demands over the people’s interests and needs.”