A win for Republicans in Colorado, now endangered

Hooray!  At last, there was a win for conservatives in Colorado.

As a Republican in the state, I was thrilled when 60 percent of Colorado voters said no to Proposition HH on November 6, 2023.  Like many conservatives, I worked for its defeat.

The thrill didn’t last, however.

Democrats couldn’t let our win stand.  You see, it was a serious loss for Democrats in power, including Governor Jared Polis (D) and state legislators. 

According to an Axios Denver article by John Frank, published November 7, 2023, “[t]he billion-dollar stakes tied to the proposition made it the marquee race in the odd-year election, drawing national big-moneyed donations.”  Proponents for the initiative and opponents of it both raised about $3 million on Proposition HH, according to Frank.

Governor Polis reacted to the election results by dramatically calling for a special legislative session to address rising residential property taxes, which are to go up by about 35 percent in January 2024, as if the threat were something new.  It isn’t.  The situation has been known since property valuations skyrocketed, peaked, and went down.

Another minor detail: The proposition was supposed to keep property owners from paying higher property taxes, but it wouldn’t have even made much of a difference at all.  Prop. HH was just a bait-and-switch to get rid of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which refunds money to citizens.  (Democrats hate TABOR.)

Nevertheless, Gov. Polis — now our magical knight in shining armor — came out at a press conference with goggles on and shouted, emergency, emergency!  (What a dramatic way to change the subject from the defeat of Prop. HH.  The guy is slippery, but he’s smart.)

According to a Colorado Public Radio article, Gov. Polis even broke glass with a baseball bat to emphasize the point at a press conference.  “We need to act for short-term property tax relief now.  Any relief for the current tax year to homeowners has to be done now.”

Polis said the session will focus on a quick fix for the 2023 tax year, while also impaneling a commission to look at longer-term changes.  Lawmakers will convene on Friday, Nov. 17, and work for a minimum of three days — the shortest amount of time it takes to pass a bill into law in Colorado.

Colorado conservatives will be commenting, no doubt.

Some are worried that Gov. Polis will make an end run around the will of the people.  He and legislators did just that in 2019 after voters turned down Proposition 112, which increased setbacks for oil and gas leases to inhibit hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  Through SB19-181, the Legislature instituted the policy in spite of voters’ rejection of it, and Gov. Polis signed it.

Not sure legislators can do the same this time — by law, bills have to be about one subject — but legislators probably won’t fix the problem of taxes going up by at least 35 percent.  Experts say that legislators can do it simply by capping a rise at 5 or 10 percent.  Hopefully, people can guilt them into doing that.  What they probably will do is some more card tricks while claiming they are fixing the real problem.

Conservatives are a little nervous about the whole thing; even when we Republicans get a win in Colorado, it seems to turn into a loss by the Democrats’ sleight of hand.

Proposition HH was known to be a dishonest way of taking citizens’ tax refunds to give the government more ease in spending taxpayers’ money, and not saving them money in the end, when the State said it would.

According to a November article in Colorado Politics by Marianne Goodland, “[t]he measure asked voters to use Taxpayer's Bill of Rights surplus revenue — which is usually refunded to taxpayers — to reduce property tax increases, fund school districts and backfill counties, water districts, fire districts, ambulance or hospital districts and other local governments.”

There was no honest, direct “ask” of Colorado voters.  Not at all.

This “emergency” is of the Democrats’ own making, and you can’t trust them as far as you can throw them, certainly not for long-term tax policy.  We conservatives will be watching closely to see what Democrats pull out of the hat this time, and we will make our voices heard.

Hopefully, our win will not disappear.

C.S. Boddie writes for Meadowlark Press, LLC.

Image via Raw Pixel.

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