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Colorado State Senate chambers. Photo courtesy of KUNC.

The failure of Proposition HH in the 2023 Consolidate Election has contributed to the crisis surrounding the state’s looming property tax increase. This morning at 10:30 a.m. Governor Jared Polis announced he is calling a special legislative session of the 74th General Assembly to address the issue.

Coloradans are facing an extreme property tax increase – up to forty to fifty percent next year according to certain projections due to higher assessments. The situation has come about because the Gallagher Amendment (which since its inception in 1982, kept Colorado property taxes from rising as quickly as home values) was repealed by voters in 2020. This will affect Coloradans from all corners of the state if the legislature does not take action. This is an immediate, statewide, and bipartisan concern.

Polis shared details of the scope of the Special Session now scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on November 17, 2023. This is the second special session Polis has called; his first special session order focused on bipartisan relief to Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am calling this session to urge the legislature to bridge partisan divides and put people over politics to provide immediate property tax relief to Coloradans facing extreme spikes from their 2023 property bills,” said Polis. “Coloradans are looking to us to reduce property taxes and provide relief to families, and as we always have, we will work to deliver solutions that protect and enhance the Colorado we love.”

Polis said he is tasking the legislature to tackle two specific and urgent issues during the special session:

First, to provide immediate relief for Coloradans at risk of receiving 40-50 percent increases in their property tax bill and to renters who may bear the burden of an increase that’s passed onto them through no fault of their own. The General Assembly already set aside $200 million for property tax relief that could be utilized right now, and Governor Polis is hopeful even more can be put toward saving people money.

Second, a recently passed federal law provides Colorado with an opportunity to provide food and nutrition benefits to more than 300,000 Colorado children during the summer months beginning as soon as the summer of 2024. Passing legislation as soon as possible will enable critical program organization in time for this summer and access approximately $35 million in federal benefits. Working together in partnership with the legislature, more than 300,000 low-income and at-risk Colorado children could gain access to summer meals if action is taken during this special session.

Legislative leaders in the House and Senate released statements following Governor Polis’ call for a special session to address property tax relief for Coloradans:

“We always knew that if Proposition HH failed, property taxes would rise dramatically for thousands of Coloradans, which would make Colorado’s cost of living even more out of reach for so many,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, (D-Boulder). “The voters had their say about a long-term, comprehensive approach. Our caucus will now be laser-focused on providing short-term relief to those who are most vulnerable to the rising cost of living – which means working families, renters, and those on fixed incomes – while protecting our schools and fire districts.”

“We have a responsibility to deliver real results on the issues that matter most to Coloradans, and that’s what we’ll do in this special session as we continue working to address the rising cost of living,” said House Speaker Julie McCluskie, (D-Dillon).

“With rising property values leading to unaffordable tax increases, our goal is to responsibly provide real relief to the people who need it most while protecting schools, fire districts, and libraries,” she added. “In this special session, we will work to boost support for renters and working people and deliver urgent property tax relief for Coloradans.”

“The cost of living in our state is a top concern for Colorado homeowners and renters alike, and steep property tax increases are stretching budgets even further,” said Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez, (D-Denver). “As we continue our work to make Colorado more affordable and consider the options available to us, we must now determine if a path forward exists that can provide relief while protecting funding for schools and essential community services.”

“We have an opportunity to deliver urgent property tax relief and support for working families, especially renters,” said House Majority Leader Monica Duran, (D-Wheat Ridge). “Rising property taxes threaten the lifelong investments many lower-income Coloradans and people of color have made to achieve the dream of owning a home. Despite our limited options, we are committed to working with stakeholders to craft a responsible package that protects schools and makes Colorado more affordable. I encourage everyone to come to the table and work with us to provide relief for Coloradans.”