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Rep. Tisha Mauro: Delivering for Coloradans: A post special session debrief

Dec 17, 2023

This op-ed was published in the Pueblo Chieftain on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023.

Rising property values have led to many Coloradans facing unaffordable property taxes, especially for those on fixed incomes and our most vulnerable communities. In Pueblo, residential home values have risen nearly 40%.

During our four day special session in mid-November, Colorado Democrats delivered short-term, residential property tax relief while protecting funding for schools, fire districts and libraries and without using any of the state’s TABOR surplus that must be refunded to taxpayers. Overall, this new law provides more than $430 million in residential property tax relief.

Specifically, we increased the property value exemption for multifamily and single family residential properties from $15,000 to $55,000 and decreased the residential assessment rate from 6.76% to 6.7% for the 2023 tax year. This means that you can now deduct $55,000 right off the top of your home’s value before the application of the newly lowered residential assessment rate and local mill levies. For a residential property worth $350,000 – slightly higher than the median home value in Pueblo – a homeowner will save $246 on their property taxes. This is in addition to $200 in cost savings from bipartisan legislation passed in the last two years to address rising property taxes (SB22-238 and SB21-293) for a total of $446 of property tax savings for 2023 from legislation passed at the state capitol.

While immediate property tax relief took center stage, we also championed legislation to develop more long-term, robust property tax solutions. The Commission on Property Tax will be composed of legislators, a property tax administrator and different local government and community leaders to map out long-term solutions to property taxes that have been rising since Coloradans voted to repeal the Gallagher Amendment in 2020.

In addition to property tax relief, the legislature also ramped up support for hardworking families. After paying rent, groceries and gas, we know many Coloradans’ budgets are squeezed. As we continue to tackle our state’s affordability crisis, three more bills we passed during the special session will put more money back into the pockets of families who need it the most.

SB23B-003 increases TABOR refunds for hardworking Coloradans by issuing refunds in equal amounts of $800 per single filer or $1,600 for joint filers for all tax filers. If we had not taken action, the wealthiest Coloradans would have gotten much larger refunds, and the rest of us would have gotten less. Under this new law, nearly 60% of Coloradans and everyone making under $100,000 will receive a larger refund. In Pueblo, nearly 90% of our residents will receive a larger TABOR refund, which taxpayers will see added to their state tax refund this spring.,

Colorado Democrats also doubled tax relief for low-income working families to 50% of the federal earned income tax credit, which will provide $185 million in targeted tax relief to low-and-moderate income Colorado families. Nearly half of Pueblo’s population could be eligible for this increased tax relief.

To make sure vulnerable children don’t go without food this summer, we also ensured access to an additional $35 million in federal funds to expand the Electronic Benefits Transfer program, which helps families purchase groceries from SNAP retailers during summer months when child hunger is the most severe. Eligible Colorado families will receive $40 per child per month beginning in 2024.

As evictions across our state rise, the need for emergency rental assistance is more dire than ever before. Emergency rental assistance works in two ways – it protects landlords from financial losses and prevents Coloradans from losing their homes. Coloradans facing eviction often have nowhere else to turn which leads to cycles of poverty, homelessness and myriad other life disruptions.

During the special session, we stepped up to invest $30 million into emergency rental assistance, raising statewide assistance to $65 million this year. From Grand Junction to Denver and Pueblo and Fort Morgan, Coloradans statewide on the brink of eviction or late on their rent can take advantage of emergency financial assistance. We know this law will keep thousands of Coloradans housed in their communities and help many get back on their feet.

Together, Colorado Democrats worked hard to champion thoughtful, impactful legislation that prioritizes our hardworking families while providing much needed property tax relief now. With the 2024 legislative session on the horizon, we are already gearing up, preparing legislation and working alongside community members to bring forward new ideas that will make Colorado a more affordable place for everyone to call home.

Representative Tisha Mauro represents House District 46 which spans the majority of Pueblo County, including Avondale, Beulah, Colorado City and Rye.

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