August 8, 2020
Why They Want to Repeal the
BY: DENNIS GALLAGHER
Since the legislature voted to place a referendum to the November ballot, Amendment B, to Repeal the Gallagher Amendment, lots of friends and neighbors have asked me: "Dennis, why does the government want to repeal the Gallagher Amendment?" Its simple - they want to raise your residential property taxes so they can lower property taxes for businesses.
Let's cut right to the chase. Repealing Gallagher will give them a blank check to make you pay more home property taxes so businesses pay less in property taxes. Don't be distracted by all the song and dance routines, if you vote to repeal Gallagher, you lose the only protection for the middle class residential home owners and renters in the constitution. Are voters going to vote to take away the their only protection which has has worked since 1982 to keep their property taxes at a reasonable level? Voters approved the Gallagher by a margin of 65% to 35% in 1982. They rejected the last attempt to remove Gallagher by 80%. The voters are not so easily fooled!
Our state legislature believes like Mussolini that if one can pluck one feather at a time from the proverbial chicken no one will notice. Ending Gallagher will allow your property taxes to rise every year. The legislature refuses to tell you the truth. They want to end Gallagher so that your property taxes will increase. Pure and Simple!
The cry from the legislature is to cut property taxes for businesses and raise them on homeowners. They want to cut taxes for Amazon, Da Vita, Coors, Excel, and Century Link. They say corporations pay too much and we must have them pay less. But the legislature also wants to raise more money. So their solution is to make residential property owners pay part of the corporations' share and a little more besides. That's the give-a-tax-break to corporate mentality that is driving the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment. Amazon, after a multibillion dollar profit, did not pay one dime of federal income taxes last year. Does that make you as angry as it makes me? The legislature wants us to feel sorry for them and give them another tax break! One analysis of this referendum shows repealing Gallagher this year will cause residential property taxes to increase by almost $300,000,000 this year alone. The drive to protect corporate America will not be satisfied until Colorado has property taxes as high as New Jersey, equal to a second mortgage payment. They want you to pay more home taxes and higher rents, so business taxes will pay less.
Are there problems with Gallagher? Yes. Any constitutional amendment or legislation which is almost 40 years only may need to be changed. I have publicly said as much. But the legislature did not fix Gallagher's issues. They want to end it and its limits upon their power. Let me translate what they are really saying, "Oh, trust us, don't limit our ability to raise your taxes and decrease the amount of taxes paid by corporate interests. And we won't raise taxes all at once" We, the voters, are not that stupid! And the legislature did not include in the title of this Gallagher Repeal an alert, a hint, a warning that your home property taxes will increase. Translation: "Don't tell the people if they vote for this referendum, their home taxes will increase. Don't tell them that. They may vote "no" on Amendment B.
One of latest surveys on business friendly environments had Colorado the 4th most business friendly state in the United States. But that isn't good enough for corporations, their swarms of lobbyists, and their insatiable concept of greed. What they are really saying: " We pay too much - shift the burden to home owners and renters!"
Ann Richards the once governor of Texas said, "Life isn't fair, but government should be." Gallagher makes Colorado a much fairer place to live if you are a homeowner or renter. Don't give corporations is Colorado another tax break!
The voters of Colorado understood the wisdom of the Gallagher Amendment when the passed it in 1982. They reminded the powers that be in 1993 when they rejected its removal from the state constitution by almost 80%. . I know we will once again have the good sense to end the legislature's foolish attempt to end it this year. Please share these comments with your family, friends and neighbors.
September 6th, 2020
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst
Amid a contentious election year and a global pandemic, voters deserve to understand
what we’re voting for this November and how it will affect us. One ballot measure,
proposed Amendment B, will hit home harder than the rest. If passed, Amendment B
will repeal the Gallagher Amendment and increase your property taxes. However, the
wording of the ballot language, in violation of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, does not
mention this tax increase. In my opinion, Amendment B is deceitful and just plain
What is the Gallagher Amendment? Passed by voters in 1982, the Gallagher
Amendment brought relief from rapidly rising residential property taxes due to inflation
and the favorable tax treatment often received by businesses and special interests.
Gallagher imposed a 45% limit on the tax burden paid by residential property with the
other 55% of the property tax burden being collected from non-residential property like
oil and gas and other commercial property. This 45 to 55 percent balance has saved
residential property owners $35 billion since being enacted.
Because of rising home and apartment prices, residential property values have steadily
increased over the years. However, because the value of non-residential properties is
often set more favorably than homes, Gallagher has required assessment rates on
residential properties to be reduced from 21% in 1982 to 7.15% today, and is projected
to fall to 5.88% in 2021 to maintain the 45/55 balance. Gallagher has also prevented
commercial interests from getting special tax loopholes and shifting the tax burden
onto residential owners and renters, as has happened in many other states with
average taxes on homes often exceeding $10,000 per year.
If the Gallagher Amendment is repealed, Coloradans can expect a much higher tax
bill starting in the next tax cycle. Indirectly, renters will pay for increased property
taxes passed on by housing providers. Homeowners may struggle to evade
foreclosure. Economic hardships will likely increase for fixed-income residents and at-
risk families. Total housing costs will go up, mortgages will be less accessible.
If Amendment B passes, it will take a sledgehammer to affordable housing. A major
priority for local governments throughout Colorado is to address and take care of
affordable housing for some residents; but this has been more difficult following the hit
of COVID-19. In the current climate, voting “yes” on Amendment B
would increase property taxes and the cost of affordable
housing, pushing vulnerable families out of their homes and leaving these families with
little to no housing options.
If Gallagher is repealed, the Colorado Property Tax Administrator estimates residential
property owners will pay an additional $203.7 million in property tax increases – just in
the first year. This could escalate the financial crisis many Coloradans already face
from high unemployment and lost income due to Covid19. Fear during a recession only
creates more uncertainty in everyone’s finances. Now is not the time
to raise taxes on Coloradans.
Even as we face the uncertainty of an economic recession, the deficit will still need to
be made up elsewhere. While the ballot language suggests that taxes generated by
the Gallagher Repeal could fund fire protection, police and education, there is
absolutely no requirement for lawmakers to do so. It is rumored that commercial
interests are already planning legislation to reduce their taxes if Amendment B passes.
In my opinion, repealing the Gallagher Amendment is an extreme measure and the
effects will harm Colorado immediately and in the long run. In order to protect residents
over special business interests, we must vote NO on Amendment B
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst is a former Democratic legislator and former Democratic
Speaker of the Colorado House. She represented District 10 from 2009 to 2017 and is
against Amendment B.