The Crestone Eagle • October, 2020

Eleven statewide ballot measures are certified for election November 3

by Lisa Cyriacks

Voters will decide on seven citizen initiatives—gray wolves, state income tax rate, abortion, paid family and medical leave, suffrage and gambling.

A veto referendum determining whether Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is on the ballot. States in the NPVIC agree to give their electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes nationwide if the compact goes into effect.

A veto referendum is a type of measure put on the ballot through citizen signature petition in an effort to repeal a law recently passed by the legislature. The National Popular Vote veto referendum is the first veto referendum to be certified for the Colorado ballot since 1932.

The State Legislature referred a State statute to increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs and two constitutional amendments: one concerning charitable games such as bingo and raffles and another to repeal the Gallagher Amendment.

Amendment B: Repeal Gallagher Amendment

Faced with a deepening state budget crisis, Colorado legislators voted 79-20 to ask voters to repeal the Gallagher Amendment and forgo an estimated 18% residential property tax cut that’s slated to kick in next year.

Political conventional wisdom has long held that Gallagher, because of its popularity with homeowners and its uneven effects on different communities, is simply too complicated to fix.

Due to Gallagher, Coloradans only pay 25% as much as they used to pay in property taxes on their homes.

The Gallagher Amendment was part of a package of property tax changes made to our State Constitution, voted-on and approved on the 1982 ballot. The amendment is named after former State Senator Dennis Gallagher, one of the prime sponsors of the amendment to limit the potential contribution of residential property to the state’s total property tax pool.

When it was proposed and passed in 1982, the Gallagher Amendment was intended to address specific challenges at that time. Since then, changes in real estate market conditions and subsequent constitutional amendments have created unforeseen and unintended consequences—creating significant challenges for Colorado today.

Under current real estate market conditions, the total value of residential property continues to grow faster than the total value of commercial property. Compliance with the Gallagher Amendment will continue to force down the Residential Property Tax Assessment rate resulting in eroded local property tax bases and reduced funding for local government services.

Proponents for Amendment B argue that a vote “Yes” on Amendment B removes the limit on property taxes by the Gallagher Amendment and will result in added revenue to be spent on schools, libraries, first responders, and more. As an added benefit the residential property tax rate will freeze the Residential Property Tax Rate which will then only be changed by a vote of the people.

Opponents argue that raising property taxes will have a negative impact on homeowners and renters. The argument is that businesses in our state bear the brunt of property taxes, and repealing Gallagher would do nothing to help businesses. This problem can and should be addressed in a different way.

If the amendment passes, a companion bill passed during the 2020 legislative session by a bipartisan vote—Senate Bill 223—would go into effect, freezing the assessment rate on residential properties at 7.15% and 29% for non-residential properties.