The Colorado Capitol pictured on May 9, 2023. (Sara Wilson/Colorado Newsline)
A recent survey found that about 41% of likely Colorado voters are unfamiliar with a proposition on November’s ballot that would affect their property taxes and increase how much taxpayer revenue the state could keep.
Proposition HH is going before voters this November after lawmakers agreed to refer it to the ballot and Gov. Jared Polis signed off on it. If passed, it would change how property taxes are calculated for homeowners in an attempt to lessen an expected increase in what property owners will owe. It would raise the amount of tax revenue the state can keep under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights for the next decade in order to backfill some of local governments’ reduction in property tax revenue.
It would also set aside money for a rental assistance program and expand the senior homestead exemption. If Proposition HH passes, taxpayers would also receive a flat TABOR refund next year of $873 for single filers and $1,746 for joint filers, instead of a refund depending on income level.
“Although the Proposition HH ballot language is relatively easy to understand, its approval would have far-reaching policy and funding implications for every local government, school district, property owner, and taxpayer in Colorado,” the survey summary, paid for and conducted by Magellan Strategies, reads.
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The survey relied on interviews with registered voters from June 21 to July 7. It has a margin of error of 3.81%.
Among all the respondents, 41% said they were not familiar at all with the ballot measure. Ten percent said they were very familiar and 25% said they were somewhat familiar with it.
“We’re standing up and working hard on a very robust campaign to communicate with the voters about the need for property tax relief. This is a package that we think is a really balanced approach to this situation, to high valuations,” said Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat who sponsored the legislation that created Proposition HH.
The survey asked for respondents’ opinions after they simply read the ballot language and then again after they learned about the measure’s impact. When people learned more about Proposition HH, their support dipped: 54% said they supported the measure when they first read the ballot language, but just 43% said they supported it after they learned about how it would affect property taxes, TABOR refunds, school district funding and property tax revenue to local governments.
“It appears that as voters become more informed about the policy changes that would result from the approval of Proposition HH, they are less likely to support it,” the survey summary said.
Democrats, women and people older than 65 were most likely to still support Proposition HH after learning about it, while Republicans and men were most likely to oppose it.
One Democratic voter from Arapahoe County who is a definite “yes” voter said he would vote for Proposition HH because he agrees with the use of tax revenue to ease the property tax burden.
“Property values and thus estimated taxes are being ridiculously inflated by the shortage of affordable new housing in the midst of our population growth. TABOR is a stupid conservative idea that’s continually inhibiting our state’s ability to adapt to our growing and changing challenges. Let’s give the little guy a break and help the state use funding where it can really help the greater public,” the Democratic voter told surveyors.
On the other side, a Republican woman from Arapahoe County who is a definite “no” voter doesn’t want any changes to TABOR.
“I appreciate the thoughts on the senior exemption, especially allowing them to downsize without losing the exemption, however, ultimately the Democrat-controlled legislature is trying to hoodwink us by dangling these ‘feel good’ issues to distract from the fact that they’re messing with TABOR. I had such a large increase in property value that the 50k prop HH would be so ‘wonderful’ and to gift me, isn’t even really a drop in the bucket,” she said.
Proposition HH would reduce the assessable value of homes by $50,000 in 2023 and by $40,000 from 2024 until 2032.
Eleven percent of respondents were still undecided about Proposition HH after learning more about it. Asked if they had to decide on the issue today, 71% of that share didn’t know how they leaned.
That means there is still the potential for a lot of voter education before November.
“Many voters will become informed about Proposition HH through public campaigns supporting and opposing the ballot measure. Voters will also learn about Prop HH from media coverage, input from friends, and their local governments,” the survey summary said. “What does that mean for the outcome of Prop HH? We can’t say.”
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