Op-Ed: Rio Grande County Commissioners oppose Prop HH
Dear Citizens of Rio Grande County and Other Colorado Voters,
The Rio Grande County Board of County Commissioners firmly believes citizens should have a say in matters of taxation and public spending. The November 2023 ballot presents this opportunity. The Commissioners also believe an informed vote requires clear and concise ballot language adequately describing the impact of a "yes" or "no" vote. The Colorado General Assembly passed legislation signed into law by the Governor on May 24, 2023, known as Senate Bill 23-303 "Reduce Property Taxes And Voter- approved Revenue Change" which is a lengthy 48-page bill that is neither clear nor concise and contains a question referred for voter approval identified on the ballot as “Proposition HH”.
The referred ballot measure language specified is "SHALL THE STATE REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES FOR HOMES AND BUSINESSES, INCLUDING EXPANDING PROPERTY TAX RELIEF FOR SENIORS, AND BACKFILL COUNTIES, WATER DISTRICTS, FIRE DISTRICTS, AMBULANCE AND HOSPITAL DISTRICTS, AND OTHER LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND FUND SCHOOL DISTRICTS BY USING A PORTION OF THE STATE SURPLUS UP TO THE PROPOSITION HH CAP AS DEFINED IN THIS MEASURE?"
The Commissioners believe the ballot question is intentionally misleading and fails to specify several important facts to inform a voter’s choice. The ballot question does not specify the amount of taxes to be reduced; does not specify what the expanded property tax relief for seniors consists of; does not specify the amount of backfill to local governments and special taxing districts; does not indicate the "state surplus" consists of tax dollars collected over the current Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) cap that would otherwise be refunded to tax payers and; does not specify the new TABOR cap would allow government to grow at a greater rate than inflation and population.
If approved, Prop HH would allow government entities to increase their mill levies, over and above the “revenue limitation”, without a vote of the taxpayers. It would also authorize a 25% increase in the annual growth rate in the state spending limit, adding dollars to the state’s largest budget on record and would allow the state of Colorado to collect and spend an additional $9 billion funded by this significant increase in taxes.
The ballot question also allows the state legislature to extend Prop HH through 2040 producing a $21 billion net tax increase, all without voter approval. Conservative estimates indicate the average homeowner would face a net tax increase of more than $400 per year through 2032 due to the loss of TABOR refunds.
Prop HH also threatens local control of property tax revenue for local governments and its tax-paying base. Prop HH transfers decision making from the local level to the Governor’s office and the state legislature. This measure strikes down more than 100 years of precedence in Colorado and further consolidates power at the State level.
The Rio Grande County Commissioners are strongly opposed to Prop HH and urge all citizens of Rio Grande County and the State of Colorado to vote "NO" on Prop HH on the November 2023 ballot as it clearly violates the State Constitution, seems purposefully written to mislead voters, and obscures the fact that passage would eliminate future TABOR refunds and reduce the limits placed on the growth of state government.
Gene Glover, Scott Deacon, Tyler Ratzlaff
Rio Grande County Commissioners