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Colorado lawmakers gear up for special session on property taxes

In addition to property tax relief, Democratic majority proposing equal TABOR refunds, $30 million in rental assistance
colorado capitol
Posted at 11:24 AM, Nov 17, 2023

DENVER — Colorado lawmakers are gearing up for a special session on rising property taxes. The special session, the 50th in Colorado’s history, will begin on Friday and is expected to last for three days.

“The people of Colorado should not have to face a 40% increase in property taxes next year,” said Gov. Jared Polis.

Polis said Proposition HH would have prevented that, but voters rejected it by nearly 20 points.

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After its defeat, Polis called a special session.

"We really only have a few tools at our disposal to reduce property taxes at the state level,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg.

Democratic leaders outlined their plans on Thursday. Fenberg said several bills would be introduced during the special session. Democrats want to increase property value exemptions from $15,000 to $50,000.

They also want to lower the residential assessment rate for homeowners from 6.765% to 6.7%.

“This bill also appropriates the $200 million from the general fund that was already set aside for property tax relief,” Fenberg said. “That money will go towards funding backfill for local governments, the vast majority of this will go towards making sure schools and fire districts are made whole.”

Their plan does not provide any additional relief for commercial properties.

Fenberg said the state already provided $800 million in property tax relief for this year through the passage of a previous bill. But that won’t be their only focus.

Democrats are offering a plan to boost the Earned Income Tax Credit and increase TABOR refunds for lower-income Coloradans. State Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, is introducing a bill to provide $30 million in emergency rental assistance.

“I think it's clear that the housing crisis and the rising cost of living have impacted us all as Coloradans,” Gonzales said.

“We want to make sure, at the end of the day, that we do everything that we can in order to keep people housed this winter and into the spring, as long as we can,” she said.

Republicans are calling for deeper cuts in the assessment rates.

"The Republican plan is an honest and real property tax relief plan,” said Rep. Rose Pugliese, the assistant House minority leader.

One version of the Republican plan also cuts the state income tax rate from 4.4% to 4.0%. Overall, they say their plan will provide $1.4 billion in property tax relief to Coloradans.

"We want to deliver to them real and honest property tax relief,” Pugliese said.

But Republicans are in the super minority, and most of their ideas are likely to go nowhere in the House or Senate.

In addition to property taxes, the governor also wants lawmakers to pass legislation to help get a new summer EBT food program for children up and running.

The state has until Jan. 1 to notify the federal government of its intent to participate in the program.

Polis said by participating in the program, Colorado would receive $35 million each year to provide food benefits to 300,000 children.

“We want to pull people together to make sure that that gets done as well, and that there is time to implement that so that the Coloradans who need it most don't lose out on the funding that they need for lunches for their kids over summer,” he said.