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Proposition HH: Not the Solution to Coloradans Property Tax Issue

By Representative Ty Winter, Trinidad

September 6, 2023

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) protects Coloradans from the unnecessary expansion of state government by requiring a ballot initiative to raise taxes or expand the state general fund. TABOR requires excess tax revenue be returned to taxpayers unless a vote allows the state to retain the funds. In short, TABOR gives power to the people concerning how their hard-earned money will be spent.

The governor and democrat lawmakers have touted Proposition HH as a property tax cut. While Coloradans could initially see a decrease in property taxes, tax cuts do not come out of thin air, funding must come from somewhere. Along with the tax cuts, Coloradans will receive substantially smaller, or no annual TABOR refunds.

Packaging the proposition as a tax cut is an underhanded tactic to dupe voters into relinquishing TABOR protections. This deceitful move will allow the Colorado General Fund to grow, increase state spending, and inflate the size of our government. According to the Fiscal Note for Proposition HH, a “Yes” vote on this measure would allow the state to retain, “$166.6 million for FY 2023-24; $358.6 million for FY 2024-25; and larger amounts in subsequent fiscal years through at least FY 2031-32.” The report continues, saying, “the bill is expected to allow the state to retain about $200 million more each year than in the prior year, provided that state revenue meets or exceeds the cap.”

Republican lawmakers have proposed a special session to solve the property tax issue. These requests were ignored by Governor Jared Polis, who believes the issue can wait until the 2024 legislative session. This stall tactic speaks volumes. Polis is unwilling to concede property tax relief without hoarding TABOR refunds in return. If passing Proposition HH was just about reducing property taxes, the issue could have been solved by bills like HB23-1054 Property Valuation, during the 2023 session. The Property Valuation bill was introduced in the House on January 9th, 2023 by Republicans Representative Lisa Frizell and Senator Byron Pelton. The proposed bill would have postponed property reassessment until 2025 and ensure when the reassessment took place, the valuation amount would not increase by more than 5%. This measure would have relieved the amount of property tax Coloradans owed without jeopardizing TABOR refunds. Democrats in the House Finance Committee voted to postpone the bill indefinitely.

Instead, on May 1st, seven days before the end of the 2023 session, democrats introduced SB23-303, the bill putting Proposition HH on the ballot. Bills are supposed to be introduced in the Colorado Legislature by the 17th legislative day in the Senate and the 22nd legislative day in the House. These deadlines ensure that bills undergo substantive debate and receive stakeholder input before they become law. To pass the measure before the end of the 2023 Legislative Session, democrat lawmakers used Rule 14. This sparingly used rule allows the majority party to cut off bill discussion, effectively silencing dissent.

To summarize, Proposition HH is a deceptive measure, hastily pushed through the legislature with little consideration from your elected representatives. This is not the solution to Coloradans property tax issue. It is up to you, as a voter in the great State of Colorado, to protect our rights. A “NO” vote on Proposition HH is a vote to protect Coloradans from giving up our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. A “NO” vote protects Coloradans from government expansion.

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