As the coronavirus takes its toll on jobs, resulting in lower tax revenue, the Colorado budget is on life support. As a result, state lawmakers are taking aim at the Gallagher Amendment, which effectively reduces residential property taxes.
In November, voters will be asked to repeal the amendment.
“If we don’t make a change to Gallagher, we’re likely to see $500 million cuts to education budgets across the state and cuts to the emergency rooms, hospitals, EMTs, etc.,” Senator Chris Hansen, co-sponsor of the bill, told Denver7.
Passed in 1982, the Gallagher Amendment determines the way property taxes are assessed. It was designed to keep residential property taxes lower than the rates paid by business owners. Through a complicated calculation, it keeps the ratio of residential to business taxes at a 45/55% split, respectively.
But with businesses suffering, the bill’s proponents argue that the split no longer makes sense. Furthermore, the need is growing to fill state coffers. Property taxes are used to help fund fire districts, hospital districts, and schools. In normal times, when local governments struggle to meet education budgets, the state fills in the rest. But the state is projecting a $3.3 billion shortfall, notes Denver7.
“It’s not the silver bullet for funding, but if we don’t make a change to Gallagher, the ability to get to a solution will be twice as hard,” Hansen told Denver7.
The repeal, notes Denver 7, will keep the rates where they are currently, instead of letting them fall any further due to the recession. The good news is that even with a bump, property taxes won’t go sky-high: Colorado currently has one of the lowest effective property rate in the country.