The premier ballot initiative on this fall’s ballot is Proposition HH, which deals with residential property taxes. The proposition begins with the phrase, “Shall property taxes be decreased…” This is misleading. While property taxes will be decreased in the short term from a projected 20 to 30% hike because of the state’s hot real estate market, they are still projected to rise over the long term, according to Colorado Public Radio.
What HH will also accomplish is to allow the state to set aside up to $2 billion per year instead of refunding it to taxpayers. This provision is why advocates for the Taxpayers Bill of Rights say that Proposition HH will end taxpayer refunds from government overspending. It sets such a high bar for TABOR refunds to be permitted that it will render the possibility of such refunds almost impossible. Additionally, I have read that local governments will be barred from issuing TABOR refunds due to Proposition HH.
The usual argument from the advocates of TABOR is that the people deserve the right to keep any excess money that the government does not spend and that the people deserve the right to vote up or down on any tax increase. If the people have a right to have a say in how the government spends their money, then shouldn’t the state lay out its budget needs in specific detail, making the case for an extra $2 billion, so that the people can examine them before they vote? If the state needs $500 million for teacher salaries, $700 million for road improvement, $100 million for pre-kindergarten schools and $200 million for prisons then the arguments could be made for more money which reasonable people may understand.
But that is not happening. What is happening is that voters are being asked to vote yes on Proposition HH and give the government $2 billion per year for a 10-year period. That is $20 billion of taxpayer money and demands like those being made in Proposition HH is why TABOR was passed by the voters back in 1992. The people deserve an explanation as to how their tax dollars are being spent. I am voting against Proposition HH for this and many other reasons. I urge you to join me because Proposition HH was originally touted as a solution for high property taxes but it does not accomplish that goal. Voting no on HH forces legislators and the governor back to the table to craft a better solution. Let’s make that happen.
Joe Webb is the former chairman of the Jeffco Republican party.