At a time when partisan politics seem to seep into most any topic, it’s a breath of fresh air to see an issue on which a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature agree: Colorado’s lopsided Gallagher Amendment has to go. Amendment B gives Coloradans a chance to remove Gallagher’s outdated, one-size-fits all approach to property taxes.
It’s not just politicians who recognize the need. Leaders in our local small business community, education, agriculture, law enforcement, firefighters and first responders all support Amendment B. When considering what Gallagher will do to our communities as we work to recover from a year of unprecedented challenges, the reason for this broad support is clear.
The Gallagher Amendment inserted a complicated formula into our state constitution in 1982 to deal with rising property taxes. It worked in theory but has failed in practice, creating a situation where both our local businesses and essential services now face staggering financial consequences.
Right now, small businesses in Colorado pay a property tax rate that is more than four times higher than the rate paid by homeowners. If left to fester, Gallagher will pile even more tax burden on these businesses next year – giving them a rate five times higher than homeowners. Instead of helping our neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, day cares, auto repair shops, and farms, Gallagher will make it even more expensive for them to stay in business.
The situation is worse for vital services in our community. Our fire departments, emergency responders, and schools will only continue to see their funding evaporate. These are not theoretical consequences. It’s the reality our communities have faced for too long.
We now have a chance to repeal the Gallagher Amendment before it once again squeezes our economy even more and takes a buzzsaw to bare-bones budgets for vital services. Amendment B is a straightforward solution that removes Gallagher’s broken formula, and freezes property tax rates. Homeowners will keep the current property tax rate – the third lowest rate in the nation – and local businesses will not be stuck with an ever-increasing, disproportionate tax burden. Essential services will finally get some semblance of stability in their budgets.
We are disappointed by the Aurora Sentinel editorial suggesting Amendment B should be deferred until a comprehensive overhaul of Colorado’s tax system is complete. As the saying goes, when you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. Amendment B stops an already unfair and unbalanced situation from worsening at a time when solutions, not more problems, are needed. Amendment B is a needed solution and one that we, a Democrat and a Republican elected to represent Aurora, fully support. We urge the people of this community to vote Yes on Amendment B.
Curtis Gardner (R) is an at-large member of Aurora City Council. Sen. Rhonda Fields (D) represents Senate District 29.