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Opinion Columns

Opinion: When considering Prop CC, leave property taxes out of the discussion

Voters around the state will soon receive their ballots for the 2019 election. This year, we’ll be considering a measure called Proposition CC.

It’s an important one for the future of the state and will affect how we invest in priorities like our schools; our colleges and universities; and our roads, bridges, and transit for many years to come. 

Bob Brocker

These issues are important no matter how old you are. That’s because we all drive on our roads and use transit, and whether we have children and grandchildren or not, we all benefit from making sure the next generation is ready for the jobs that power Colorado’s economy.

There are plenty of legitimate arguments for and against Proposition CC, which will end the practice of refunding tax revenue collected under current rates and instead invest that money in the areas listed above. (Full disclosure: I am personally in favor — and please read your Blue Book.) 

Lately, I am hearing rumors and innuendos that have led some to incorrectly believe that somehow, if Proposition CC passes, an important property tax exemption for older homeowners will no longer exist. This is wrong and such an unnecessary upset to those who depend on it to make ends meet.  

In 2000, voters added an amendment to the state constitution that gives qualifying homeowners over age 65 a break on their property taxes by exempting a portion of their home’s value from taxation. In passing it by a wide margin, voters created the Senior Property Tax Exemption. It continues to help many qualifying older adults stay in their homes.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

The confusion, and the opening to confuse, stems from a decision the legislature made in 2017, buried deep within an unrelated bill, to use this tax break as the first way to issue refunds under Colorado’s TABOR law. Whether or not you are in favor of keeping, reforming or repealing TABOR; this was a good idea at the time. 

Between Fiscal Year 2016-17 and 2018-19, there have not been any TABOR refunds issued. Yet the Homestead Exemption has been funded. In fact, since its inception, the Homestead Exemption has been funded far more often than not ($1.3 billion in total).

Yet, it is true the legislature hasn’t always chosen to provide that funding. In years when the economy is not as strong as it’s been recently, legislators have to make difficult decisions — which can mean cuts to programs and services we all care about. But in those years, there isn’t enough tax revenue to trigger TABOR refunds either. 

All Proposition CC will do is take funding of the Senior Property Tax Exemption back to the way things were before 2017.

Again, we can agree or disagree about the arguments for this measure, but older voters can rest assured: a vote for Proposition CC is not a vote against their property exemption. There is nothing on the November ballot that will repeal the Homestead Exemption. 

Vote for or against CC on its own merits and leave property taxes out of the discussion.

Bob Brocker is a retired railroad executive who actively volunteers as a citizen advocate focused on helping older Coloradans live their best lives. He is president of Colorado Senior Lobby, a long-serving board member of A Little Help, and a member of the DRCOG Advisory Committee on Aging.


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