By Carolyn Martin (CHEC Director of Government Relations)
Don’t Fall for the Rhetoric
They knew. Elected official across the state and lawmakers at the Capitol knew every property owner in Colorado would see a substantial increase in property taxes this year. A slew of bills to tweak property valuations and address housing problems were introduced in this year’s legislative session, but it wasn’t until the last week of the session that a bill (SB23-303) to address property taxes, heavily supported by the governor, was strong-armed through the system. The policy outlined in the bill was so contentious and the majority pushing it so deaf to the opposition, the minority in the House walked out in protest just before the vote was called.
SB23-303 passed the Senate on a party-line vote and passed the House with seven Democrats voting against it. Because SB23-303 contains provisions around TABOR (Taxpayer Bill Of Rights), the people of Colorado must vote for its enactment. It will be on the November 2023 ballot as Proposition HH. To make matters worse, a companion bill (HB23-1311) was rammed through in the last three days of session which alters the distribution of the estimated $2.4 billion-dollar 2024 TABOR refund and will go into effect if voters approve Proposition HH. TABOR refunds will not be distributed according to your tax burden but will be distributed “equitably” with every resident receiving the same amount.
The bottom line is this: Proposition HH is an attempt to neuter TABOR. TABOR is a constitutional provision that limits the growth of government and its ability to raise taxes beyond a certain threshold without first asking the people. If Proposition HH passes, there will be no stopping the growth of the state government.
To sell this to the people, I can imagine the rhetoric will revolve around saving the homeless, the children, and the firefighters. Whatever they use to try to get your vote, they certainly won’t tell you that they want to keep your TABOR refunds into the future. In the short term they’ll use that money to backfill local districts the amount they are lowering your property tax bill which means your taxes are still increasing. In the long term, the money will be used to redistribute money into government programs they deem worthy to “balance the scales” between the “haves” and the “have nots.”
The fate of the policy now lies in the hands of the voters — that means YOU.
What can you do?
- Watch the videos in this series by the Independence Institute to learn more about how Prop HH will impact you.
- Discover about TABOR here.