Remember this in November and unseat those Representatives not willing to listen to your voice!
Colorado Politics, November 24, 2023:
Polis, Dems repackage and force upon us much of Prop HH!
Weeks ago, 60% of Colorado voters said they didn’t want Proposition HH. (But during the special session), Colorado Democrats gave it to us anyway!
In an impassioned floor speech during the special session that ended Monday, Rep. Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock, explained, “The bills that we have been discussing for the last four days are nothing more than Proposition HH repackaged… Colorado citizens, they didn’t like the way you voted, so they’re just going to overrule you.”
A few minutes later, Rep. Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver, replied to Frizell directly, saying, “I certainly can’t disagree with that.”
Speaker Pro Tem Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood, quickly cut her off and took the House into a recess. When they returned, she claimed to have forgotten what she was talking about.
Epps was telling the truth the leaders of her party didn’t want you to hear: Democrats used the special session to accomplish what they tried to achieve with Proposition HH before voters told them “no.”
Coloradans rejected HH because it provided insufficient property tax relief and raised state taxes by raiding TABOR refunds. Their decision prevented the largest state tax hike in Colorado history, but it also left them to face the largest property tax hike in state history at the end of the year.
During the 9News debate that aired just two weeks before the election, Gov. Jared Polis gave Coloradans hope if HH failed he would call a special session and ask the legislature to “just cut taxes… rather than redistributing more and more money (via TABOR).”
When HH went down, the governor did call a special session, but his executive order provided the first clue Coloradans would not get what he said during the debate. The order designated “the subjects for consideration, appropriate legislative action, and funding” for the session to include “TABOR refund mechanisms” and “adjustments to the Earned Income Tax Credit.”
In other words, Polis directed the special session to do more than just provide emergency stop-gap property tax relief. He made it a grab-bag of special-interest handouts paid for from TABOR refunds.
A total of seven bills passed during the special session. The main bills essentially copied the property tax changes from HH — minus any relief for commercial real estate — and redistributed TABOR refunds.
The special session property tax bill, SB23B-001, will result in a $710 property tax increase for a median Colorado homeowner. That’s $60 more in taxes per month versus $85 more had the legislature done nothing.
Overall, the bill provides less property tax relief than HH for 2023, as it included NO relief for non-residential properties. Businesses will pass on every cent of their tax increases to consumers. In other words, expect even more inflation.
The second bill, HB23B-1002, dips into TABOR refunds to pay for the expansion of a special-interest tax handout, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Taxpayers who qualify can get a check from the state, and that check comes out of everyone else’s refund. The bill will reduce overall refunds by just more than 10%. (And…the Earned Income Tax Credit is available REGARDLESS of if someone has a social security number ?)
The refund dollars remaining will go out equally to all taxpayers. The third bill, SB23B-003, dictates the refunds will not go back to the taxpayer who overpaid their taxes. Instead, someone who overpaid by $1,000 will get only $847 and someone who paid zero in taxes will get the same $847. That’s Democrats’ “EQUITY” for you.
Another bill, HB23B-1001, spends $30 million on “rental assistance,” an idea lifted directly from the now-defunct Prop HH and expanded by $10 million.
And a final bill, HB23B-003, creates a task force to come up with long-term property tax reform. Under the bill, the same politicians behind the grossly unpopular Proposition HH get to appoint most members of the task force.
Voters’ rejection of Proposition HH was a ballot-box rebuke of Democrat ideas. Rather than listen to voters, the party that controls all of state government (THE DEMOCRATS AND THE GOVERNOR!) decided to repackage the measure and force the same ideas on Coloradans without their approval. The special session made clear the only ballot-box rebuke that will put an end to their hubris only happens in even-year elections.
Ben Murrey serves as director of the Fiscal Policy Center at the Independence Institute in Denver.