Gov. Polis calls for special session on property taxes after Prop HH fails



(The Center Square) – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is calling lawmakers to the Capitol for a special legislative session to address property taxes in the wake of Proposition HH’s defeat.

The governor said the special session, which will begin on November 17, will focus on short-term relief for the 2023 tax year that’s paid in 2024

Over 60% of voters said no on Prop HH, which would have lessened the increase of property taxes in the state at the expense of taxpayer refunds. The measure was supported by the governor and majority Democrats, who passed Senate Bill 303 in the final days of the legislative session, referring the measure to the ballot.

Property values in the Denver metro area have seen 35% to 45% increases, according to county assessors.

“If we do nothing, Colorado homeowners are facing record property tax increases,” he said at a press conference on Thursday. “There’s already some relief that’s been passed by the legislature for this year, but we have the ability to do more and, frankly, the responsibility to do more. The cost of inaction is too high.”

The governor noted that lawmakers set aside $200 million in case Prop HH passed.

“There’s $200 million available to get out the door to cut property tax rates now for this current year,” Polis said. “On top of that, I’m hopeful that the General Assembly will agree on additional property tax reductions for the ‘23 year.”

Prop HH would have lowered the residential property tax assessment rate to 6.7% and covered lost revenue with Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights funds. Under the measure, a home valued at $500,000 would have seen a $186 to $276 reduction in property taxes this year, Colorado’s Blue Book said. Single filers with $52,001 to $103,000 incomes would have seen a projected $42 reduction in their TABOR refunds next year.

Prior to the election, Gov. Polis did not signal any support for a special session as a backup plan had Prop HH lost.

Last month during a Prop HH debate, House Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs, asked the governor if he would call a special session.

“Whether it’s in January or whether it’s in November or December, and whether Prop HH passes or not, I’m all for you guys doing more property tax relief to be clear,” Gov. Polis responded. “I’m all for you guys cutting the income tax. I don’t think you’re going to see anything close to this size of a $13 billion property tax cut over 10 years…”

Polis also was asked during the debate if he had a backup plan, responding that he would support “whatever can pass the legislature.”

Colorado Republicans have repeatedly called on Polis to hold a special session to address property taxes.

“The people of Colorado have spoken. They rejected the idea that the Tax Payer Bill of Rights had to die to get property tax relief,” Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, said in a statement Wednesday after the election. “True leadership can’t wait. It is urgent that we address the property tax crisis that will drive people from their homes. The Governor must call a special session now. The legislature must act.”

Republicans plan on introducing tax relief proposals during the special session, a Senate GOP spokesperson previously told The Center Square.

Their proposals include cutting the residential property tax rate from 7.15% to 6.7%, the same as under Prop HH, but not backfilling with TABOR funds. They’ve also proposed exempting the first $50,000 of home value and lowering the income tax rate from 4.4% to 4.0%.

Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said in a statement the caucus “will now be laser-focused on providing short-term relief to those who are most vulnerable to the rising cost of living – which means working families, renters, and those on fixed incomes – while protecting our schools and fire districts.”

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said he hopes Gov. Polis and Democrats “will now agree to common sense reforms to Colorado’s property tax mess and not just a simple band-aid to a complex problem.”

This story is developing and may be updated.



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