Polis tax bill signing

Gov. Jared Polis touts a package of four tax measure ahead of signing them into law.

Gov. Jared Polis plans to vote for Proposition 120, a ballot measure backed by the conservative advocacy group Colorado Rising State Action.

That put the titular leader of the state's Democrats on the opposing side from lawmakers, primarily Democrats, who say they are concerned about the damage the measure could cause to local property tax collections.

Polis reportedly told the Colorado Sun that he will vote for the ballot measure, which would lower property taxes on multi-family units and hotels. However, he did not formally endorse the measure..

Senate Bill 293 divided classifications of real property — commercial and residential — into six subsections. For residential, that would be single family homes as one group, multi-family units (apartments, condos, townhouses and duplexes, for example) into another.

It then subdivided commercial property classification into commercial non-residential, agricultural, renewable energy production and lodging.

Polis signed SB 293 into law on June 23.

Proposition 120 asks voters for permission to reduce the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and the non-residential property tax assessment rate from 29% to 26.4%.

But because of SB 293, the bill only affects multi-family units and lodging. That's led opponents to claim that the main beneficiaries of the measure would be wealthy landlords and hotel owners, and not homeowners.

A fiscal impact statement on Proposition 120, the Blue Book, a voter guide produced by the nonpartisan Legislative Council, said initially, the measure would have reduced property tax revenue by $1.03 billion per year.

With the passage of SB 293, that impact is reduced to $45.9 million. some of that impact would be on public school districts, but the fiscal analysis said the state would backfill that lost revenue, estimating it at $12.8 million in 2022-23.

The bill had bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate and three "yes" votes from Republicans, in addition to full support from Senate Democrats. In the House, the bill won support from one Republican, Rep. Matt Soper of Delta, along with chamber Democrats.

Bill sponsor Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, in a statement provided to the Sun and to Colorado Politics, said "Proposition 120 is a step backward for Colorado and will undermine funding for schools, fire protection and water districts."

Gonzales was traveling and unavailable for comment, Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, who sponsored SB 293 with Hansen, said Wednesday

Polis' vote doesn't appear to be sitting well with Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, who tweeted this response to the Sun story:

House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, who was among the House sponsors of SB 293, was unavailable for comment.

Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, the bill's Republican Senate sponsor, said those decisions about property taxes ought to be made on a local basis and by local people who live in the districts affected. 

The Boulder County Commission voted against all three statewide ballot measures this week. 

Commissioner Matt Jones, a former state senator, said Prop 120 would result in a cut back on services for roads and fire districts. He said he did not understand why Polis is voting in favor of it. "I want to provide services to people,," Jones said, "and for these fire districts, which are already on a shoestring," it will affect their response times. 

Michael Fields, executive director of Colorado Rising State Action, told Colorado Politics Wednesday, “We’re happy to have bipartisan support - from both Governor Owens and Governor Polis. People want property tax relief, and we’re working as hard as we can to pass Prop 120.”

Polis has long advocated for changes to Colorado tax policy. He called for a cut in income tax in his first State of the State address; that later took place through a ballot measure in 2020 from Colorado Rising State Action. Polis also supports eliminating special interest tax cuts and sweeping changes to the state's tax code.

In August, Polis, in an address to the Steamboat Institute, called for elimination of the state income tax.

Load comments