BY FREDA MIKLIN
SB23-303 Reduce Property Taxes and Voter-approved Revenue Change was introduced in the State Senate on May 1, one week before the 2023 session of the Colorado legislature was required to end, and right after Coloradans received their county assessors’ notices containing 35% to 45% increases in market value from the prior assessment date of June 30, 2020 to the current one, June 30, 2022.
Three days later, on May 4, the bill passed the Senate with zero Republican votes and moved on to the House. On the morning of May 8, the final day of the 2023 legislative session, GOP Minority Leader Mike Lynch asked that the entire bill be read “at length, just so that we know what’s in this,” which is his right. A computer then spent the next one hour and 38 minutes “reading” every word of the 63-page bill to what was undoubtedly an empty chamber before discussion of the bill began in earnest.
Sen. Lisa Frizell (R-45) pointed to the last-minute introduction of the bill, despite the fact that, “We all knew…we had to have a conversation around property tax policy this session…Each of us walked in here (in January) knowing that there had been a dramatic increase in property values,” including the governor’s office.
Frizell, former Douglas County assessor, pointed out that this bill reduces the rate by which the actual value is multiplied to get the assessed value by less than one percent, while property values have increased 30% or more. “How is that relief?” she asked, recommending that the bill be defeated and the general assembly return in a special session, “so that we can come back and fix this problem for our citizens; they deserve it.”
Minutes later, Democrats asked that the bill be moved back to later in the day. Throughout the process, Republicans consistently complained that the money being used to fund the proposed property tax reductions in the bill would come from money that would have otherwise been the basis of TABOR refunds, so citizens were essentially being paid with their own money. Democrats argued that this solution was the best approach to the problem, given all the circumstances, which they described in detail.
When the final vote in the House was called just after 7:30 p.m. on May 8, all GOP House members walked out and did not vote. Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie marked all 19 of them absent and the vote was won 39-7 with only Democrats participating.
With concurrence of the State Senate to late amendments, the bill was passed. Its final fate rests on voter approval in November.
If it is approved, residential property owners with lower-priced properties will experience a more significant savings impact than those with higher priced homes.
We will have more details about how this plan will work for residential and non-residential properties next week.