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SB21-293 Concerning Property Taxation and another 100 words or so make up the title to a recently-introduced bill that would temporarily lower the mill levy and create more classifications of real property (real estate, homes, businesses, agriculture, etc).

If passed and signed into law, it would be a two-year reduction, lowering the mill levy on everything except lodging and commercial. It also has a deferral mechanism where if home values rise above 4% per year, the excess increase could be deferred and secured with a lien placed on the house, not to exceed $10,000. That would give some relief to homeowners when the housing market is super-heated like we’ve seen the past few years.

Sounds great, looks like taxpayers would be keeping $159 million more the next two years. However, as Paul Harvey would say, “Now the rest of the story.”

We have been told that we may hit the TABOR cap this next year, the following year for sure, so it’s likely we would be in a refund position, so the $159 million may not have been money we could spend anyway, but that really is just a side note.

It appears that what prompted this late bill was Initiative 127, a bill title that could save taxpayers $1.03 billion (with a “B”) every single year. Granted, the title board has just approved Initiative 127, so there is still the matter of collecting 125,000 signatures and obtaining voter approval, but there does seem to be some muscle behind 127.

With Initiative 127 all mill levies would be reduced and the citizens of Colorado would keep over $1 billion that first year and each year thereafter.

So, what does it look like if the legislature passes SB21-293 and the citizens approve Initiative 127? With seven property classifications as opposed to the current three and ironing out the other differences, the $1 billion a year that 127 would save taxpayers becomes something just over $100 million each of the two years of SB21-293, ensuring that the state collects that $900 million each of those two years. And then it remains to be seen if the legislature decides to extend SB21-293 when it expires at the end of the 2024-25 budget year.

 Bottom line: if both SB21-293 and Initiative 127 become law, the taxpayers will pay $900 million more in taxes each of the next two years. So when someone asks me why I voted against a temporary tax cut (SB21-293) I’ll have to explain that it just looked like an end run around the voice of the people before they could vote on 127 and should 127 fail we can always take another run at SB21-293 next year.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. There are lots of ways to stay in touch: Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: SenatorHisey@gmail.com, Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey.

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