2023 Election, Elections, Featured, Original Report, Proposition HH, Sherrie Peif, TABOR, Taxes

Counties come out swinging against Proposition HH as opposition and money pile up

DENVER — Although the money supporting Proposition HH continues to pile up, so too does the number of organizations in opposition, with the association representing Colorado’s county governments the latest in a growing list of groups to come out against the ballot measure.

Prop HH is a legislature-referred measure, backed by Governor Jared Polis, that purports to offer property tax relief in the face of skyrocketing property valuations.  But an August study by the non-partisan Common Sense Institute shows that Coloradans stand to lose more in reduced tax rebates under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) than they gain from slightly lower property taxes.

“Proposition HH gives Coloradans a choice, trade some property tax relief, for a long-term increase in state taxes,” reads the study in part, noting that households stand to lose over $5,000 worth of TABOR refunds over the next decade under HH.

Much of the organizational support for Prop HH, such as the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Boards, and Progress Now, a left-wing advocacy group, routinely come out in support of raising taxes, which is what critics of  HH say the measure actually does.

In a recent Complete Colorado opinion piece, former Colorado State Treasurer Mark Hillman notes that the legislature doesn’t need to ask voter permission to lower taxes, only to raise them.

“With Coloradans facing the largest property tax increase of our lifetime due to soaring home prices, the legislature chose to put a massive expansion of government on the ballot disguised as a property tax cut,” writes Hillman.

Opposition growing

However, the No on HH list, which continues to grow, includes some influential surprises, with Colorado Counties Inc. (CCI) the most recent to chime in on why this is a bad idea.

“Prop HH will have a long-term negative effect on TABOR with a minimal short-term benefit,” said 2024 incoming CCI President, Delta County Commissioner Don Suppes in a recent media release announcing the organization’s opposition.

CCI is a non-profit membership association that represents 61 of Colorado’s 64 counties.

Also, on the list of organizations opposing Prop HH:

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB): Nine out of 10 members polled in August were opposed to Prop HH.  “Small-business owners have been unwavering in their support for TABOR for the 30 years of its existence,” said Tony Gagliardi, Colorado state director for NFIB in a news release. “So, this result doesn’t really surprise, but it is a shining example of something small business owners cherish—predictability. Predictability in rules, regulations, and taxes.”

The Colorado Municipal League (CML): “CML opposes Proposition HH because of the unnecessary constraints on municipal authority to provide appropriate localized property tax relief,” a news release from Sept. 1 said in part.

The Colorado Special Districts Association (SDA): The SDA first came out against the measure during legislative hearings on the matter, saying special districts and their constituents are best suited to determine the revenues necessary to meet their needs, among other reasons.

The SDA board formally opposed Prop HH on August 7, and is even offering a template for its members to individually oppose Prop HH at their website.

“The Board strongly urges its members and voters to consider the negative impacts of Proposition HH on their communities and vote NO on this proposal,” their resolution said.

Club 20: The influential coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments in Colorado’s 22 western counties unanimously opposed Prop HH at a Sept. meeting, according to State Rep. Lisa Frizell, who attended the meeting.

Colorado Association of Realtors (CAR): “There are more than 800,000 renting households, or approximately 2,000,000 Coloradans (according to US Census data), that won’t receive any property tax relief, but will likely lose their TABOR refunds,” reads the CAR email to members, in part, announcing the group’s opposition.

Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD): The PPLD Board of Trustees notes that “this ballot initiative will ultimately result in an income tax increase for citizens across the state, while reducing the amount of funding to special districts, such as libraries, throughout Colorado.”

The money game

Money for both sides also continues to add up.

One issue committee —Property Tax Relief Now — has filed to support the measure. The group has to date raised $1,135,200, with much of it out-of-state dark money, while the five committees opposed to the measure have more than a half-million-dollar edge in fundraising as of their October 3rd filing.

Taxpayer’s for a Better Deal (the Independence Institute), Americans For Prosperity (AFP) Colorado Issue Committee, HH-No (Douglas Bruce, the author of TABOR), No on HH (Advance Colorado Action) and the Tabor Coalition-Rejecthh.com, (Jefferson County activist and TABOR Coalition board member Natalie Menten) have collectively raised $1,793,881 dollars, the vast majority of which has flowed to the No on HH committee ($1,561,925), all of which has come from either Colorado individuals or organizations.

However, the one committee supporting HH has more than 35 percent of its money coming in from out-of-state special interests, with large chunks coming from the National Education Association, the Sixteen-Thirty Fund, a  Washington, DC dark-money group previously reported on by Complete Colorado, and Education Reform Now Advocacy based in New York City.

The majority of the remaining has come from known left-wing Colorado organizations and donors, including Gary Advocacy, the former employer of new Denver Mayor Mike Johnston; Jerrold Glick, the managing partner of a Denver-based investment firm and Polis appointee to the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Board of Trustees; the Colorado Education Association; Pat Stryker, a Fort Collins-based progressive activist and billionaire heiress, along with a few smaller donations from individuals.

Complete Colorado will continue to follow Proposition HH.


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