2020 Colorado Ballot Initiatives
The following are current Colorado ballot initiatives that Vail Valley Partnership’s board of governors has taken a position on…
Amendment B – Modify Property Taxes
This was referred by the state legislature in a bi-partisan vote. Numerous rural Republicans were key sponsors.
A YES vote repeals the Gallagher Amendment, which impacts the residential assessment rate for which property taxes are calculated. The assessment rate will remain constant and future decreases will not be required.
A NO vote keeps the Gallagher Amendment.
The Gallagher Amendment is complicated.
The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982 to limit then-skyrocketing residential-property taxes, says only 45% of the state’s property tax revenue can come from residential properties. The other 55% comes from commercial and industrial properties, including oil and gas, which are declining in value. State projections show oil and gas values are down 30% and commercial values are down 20%.
This will cause the residential assessment rate to fall from 7.15% to 5.88% despite home values being up 10% from the last time the legislature was forced to set this rate according to the latest projections.
If residential property taxes decrease, local governments, police, fire, schools, libraries, anything that your property taxes pay to fund, will likely receive fewer dollars. On the other hand, you’ll pay less in property taxes.
PARTNERSHIP POSITION: SUPPORT
RATIONALE: The Partnership board has historically supported removing all formulas from our constitution. Due to growth in our residential market, the Gallagher formula has forced an imbalance in property taxes in Colorado, causing a 300% increase in the shift of the property tax burden from homeowners to business owners. This has resulted in public safety, transportation and education budget crises for local communities across our state, especially in rural Colorado. Repealing Gallagher stops this continual shifting of taxes to the commercial properties in our state, providing more predictability for businesses.
Proposition 116 – State Income Tax Rate Reduction
A YES vote reduces the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%.
A NO vote keeps the state income tax rate at 4.63%
PARTNERSHIP POSITION: OPPOSE
RATIONALE: Colorado’s income tax rate has not been a hurdle in our economic development efforts. Lowering our taxes at a time when we need investment in critical issues such as transportation and higher education is counterproductive. This reduction would force an estimated $150 million per year in budget cuts on top of the significant revenue shortfall we already face. Additionally, the state often turns to businesses to recover revenue for its operations and this would likely result in negative implications for the business community.
Proposition 117 – Voter Approval for Certain New State Enterprises
A YES vote requires voter approval for new state government enterprises with fee revenue greater than $100 million in the first five years.
A NO vote keeps state enterprise authority with the state legislature.
Enterprises are user-funded entities, like the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado Lottery and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Enterprise status can affect the state budget. Picture a bucket. The bottom of the bucket is filled with fees. On top of the fees is the tax revenue the state collects. Based on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), there is a formula that dictates how much the state is allowed to collect and spend year after year. By creating an enterprise, it takes that entity out of the bucket, perhaps giving the state more money to spend on schools, health care, corrections and other state-funded departments.
Enterprise status also grows the state budget and currently is overseen by state lawmakers. If voters had a say before an enterprise was established, it could give voters more say in how much state government grows.
PARTNERSHIP POSITION: OPPOSE
RATIONALE: Fees, when properly identified as fees, can and should be utilized to help fund specific initiatives directly tied to those fees. To be clear, this doesn’t mean everything that someone calls a “fee” meets that criteria. That said, if a proposal clearly qualifies as a fee, we believe voter approval should not be required.
Proposition 118 – Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program
A YES vote creates a paid family and medical leave insurance program, funded by employees and employers paying a premium.
A NO vote means no paid family and medical leave program will be implemented.
This insurance program would provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave starting in 2024. Employees and employers would split the premium 50/50 starting in 2023, to fund the program one year ahead of it being implemented.
If passed, this requires employers and employees to pay a 0.9% payroll tax that would be deducted directly from employee wages in order to fund the insurance program. It would create a 200-person department within CDLE which would be managed by a political appointee. The Department would have wide discretion to increase the payroll deduction to as high as 1.2% of wages if program usage is higher than anticipated.
The Colorado General Assembly has consistently rejected similar approaches to paid leave in five recent legislative sessions.
PARTNERSHP POSITION: OPPOSE
RATIONALE: While we support paid family and medical leave, we do not believe a state-run program that mandates a one-size-fits-all approach for small businesses up to large corporations is the answer. This initiative is costly for both employees and employers at a time when many are struggling to keep teams employed, are working to rebuild or even just trying to stay afloat in this economy. Plus, employers are still adjusting to the new federal rules about paid leave that were released shortly after the pandemic hit. This is a blunt instrument when we need a more customized approach.