Though I have no direct proof that state legislators read Rooster Magazine, their recent actions surrounding Proposition HH and the special legislative session that was held regarding TABOR tax refunds make me think it’s highly possible.
Earlier in 2023, Rooster Magazine published an article about how the TABOR refunds—which come from any surplus of state tax revenues—were being redistributed in such a way that was punitive to the poor. By year’s end, this was rectified during the aforementioned special legislative session.
That’s the good news. Sadly, it seems the politicians only paid attention to that portion of the article.
Yes, they managed to solve the issue of the TABOR refund structure being designed so poorly, but that’s about it; they still haven’t addressed the other systemic problems found in the 1992 amendment. Even worse, this special session was only done after Colorado’s leaders failed to shift the responsibility of fixing these concerns to the backs of taxpayers in the form of redistributing their rightly owed refunds to help the pockets of homeowners via HH.
For many politicians, these setbacks would be a death knell for any candidate in an upcoming election year. However, the Democratic party of Colorado isn’t stupid and knows how to play “Hey, look over there!” with the best of them. I have no doubt this tactic will be used whenever any questions arise over how they handled the Proposition HH debacle in the upcoming campaign cycle—the entire history behind this political theater says so.
For those who need a quick reminder of everything up to this point:
In 1992, the TABOR amendment was passed. In a nutshell, it said that any money the state generates through taxes that is over the budget will be returned to the taxpayers in the form of a TABOR refund. In the last minute of the 2023 legislative session, changes were brought to the state floor when it came to TABOR for a vote; these changes were then tied to a proposition on the November 2023 ballot. In theory, Proposition HH would re-route the TABOR refunds into reducing the upcoming surge in property taxes. Taxpayers rejected the idea, which led to the special session.
Of course, with the levels of “new math” being utilized by the authors of the proposition, the death of this “pull Peter to pay Paul” reach-around style of fund refunneling was a guarantee from the get-go.
When asked about HHs complexity, Kathy Sullivan (an unaffiliated voter from Adams County) said, “It’s harder than algebra was.” She isn’t alone. Even the Bell Policy Center, a liberal fiscal policy nonprofit, wavered in its support of HH. Scott Wasserman, who leads the organization and stood next to Polis at a 2023 May news conference, called it a “political Goldilocks,” with something for people from different political points of view to hate.
When the Democratic party realized they had put their money on the wrong pony and lost, they immediately sprung into action with the special legislative session. And as cynical as I may be, even I have to admit that many good things came from this meeting.
For the homeowners, the package of new laws will deliver about $430 million of tax cuts for them across the state. Also among the laws was an even bigger tax benefits package, totaling nearly $500 million, for lower-income Coloradans.
These upcoming changes also include how the state will pay TABOR refunds next year. Typically, those refunds are paid out in tiers, with the highest-income Coloradans getting substantially higher refunds since they generally paid higher tax bills in the first place. This time, every refund will be worth about $800—a net gain of more than $200 for those in the lowest income tier, and a loss of $1,000 for those in the highest tier.
So it’s a win-win, right?
I have zero bitching with these resolutions—I think they fix some of the issues that have been addressed more than once. The problem I have comes from the fact that with how bad inflation is, in conjunction with the small amount of economic wealth found in the middle class, why these political leaders felt the best way to handle the situation was by asking the taxpayers to go completely Stockholm and give up what little extra amount of money the government returns to them?
In fact, I was so sure that Colorado voters would see through this bullshit and keep it in mind when they step into the polling booths this upcoming November, I felt we could potentially see some kind of red wave.
But then I remembered that money is a great opiate; it makes you forget about your problems.
The legislators who passed these resolutions know that many people will get their higher TABOR refunds a couple of months before the election. And these politicians will most likely use the higher amounts as a selling point in campaign ads to remind voters of how much the candidate is invested in their economic well-being.
And as per usual, tons of people will buy the lie, ensuring political victory.
Look, even though I’m registered as “unaffiliated,” I’ve voted for Democrats and their programs a majority of the time since 2004, so none of what I’ve written is coming from a place of maliciousness. If anything, I would like to see the DNC win a little more in 2024. However, I think it’s important that we call a spade a spade: Colorado politicians wanted you and me to save them from an incredibly unpopular redistribution of funds and only did the right thing when they were required to do so—not because they really care.
Because if we can’t be honest with ourselves, then what motivation do those with real power have when it comes to maintaining the same level of truth?