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Colorado Republicans roll out tax plan alternative to Prop HH

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Derek Draplin

(The Center Square) – Republican lawmakers in Colorado rolled out their plans for tax relief this week.

House and Senate Republicans, who are in the minority in both chambers, also reiterated calls for Governor Jared Polis to call a special legislative session on property taxes, which was brought up to the governor in a debate over Proposition HH earlier this week. Democrats referred the measure to the ballot during the last legislative session. 

“Our plan is focused around providing clean tax relief to Coloradans rather than political games,” House Assistant Minority Leader Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs, said in a statement. “The cost of living increases that are crushing Coloradans is not limited to only property taxes, that is why our plan not only addresses those increases, but also lowers state income taxes as well.”

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Republicans are proposing to expand the state’s senior homestead exemption “to receive the same property tax benefit for any home they purchase and live in as their primary residence” and doubling the exemption to $200,000.

Republicans also propose cutting the residential property tax rate from 7.15 percent to 6.7 percent – the same as under Prop HH, but without backfilling lost revenue with Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds. Their proposal also includes exempting the first $50,000 in home value.

In addition to property tax cuts, Republicans would like to see the state income tax slashed to 4.0 percent. Colorado voters passed a measure last November lowering the tax from 4.55 percent to the current 4.4 percent.

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The Republican lawmakers would introduce bills on the proposals during a special session or during the next regular session, Senate GOP spokesman Josh Bly said.

Monday during a debate over Prop HH, Polis, who favors the measure, also said he would like to see more cuts to income taxes. Pugliese and Colorado Rising Institute President Michael Fields, who argued against the measure, also called on the governor to 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,” Polis said when asked by Pugliese if he’d call a special session. “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…”

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Sen. Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, said Wednesday that Republicans have been calling for a special session for months.

“This body does not turn on a dime; we cannot wait until mid-January to conjure up a solution when property taxes come due in February,” he said. “The Governor must listen to the voices of people and bring this legislature back to Denver so we can take action now!”

Colorado voters are deciding on Prop HH in the election that takes place November 7.