Ballot measure aims to give Colorado voters a ‘full picture’ of future tax changes with an income chart
Colorado’s 2022 ballot features a measure that could have major implications for future voter-approved changes to the state’s income tax code.
If approved, the GG proposal would add a table breaking down the proposed income tax changes by income level to future ballot measures, providing a “full picture” of their impact and potentially overcoming a long-frustrated hurdle. progressive tax reformers.
Under current law, tax initiatives receive tax analysis by nonpartisan state legislative staff, including a table summarizing changes by income level, which is included in the statewide scale. ballot information booklet, or “Blue Book,” each election year. The GG proposal would change the composition of the table and require it to be placed directly in the title of a measure. That would mean the information appears both on signature-collecting petitions circulated by supporters of the initiative and, if it qualifies, on November voter ballots.
Get morning headlines delivered to your inbox
“Tax policy is often complicated, but it affects us all, and voters have a right to know how their family will be affected and its impact on the state,” said Cameron Hill of Colorado Common Cause, a fundraising reform campaigns. group, said in a statement. “In Colorado, we vote on every change to our taxes, so it’s critical that voters get the full picture. The GG proposal will increase the transparency of our ballots and provide voters with clear and unbiased information.
The GG proposal was returned to the ballot by House Democrats, who passed Senate Bill 22-222 by party votes in both houses earlier this year. The legislation followed a more limited “voter transparency” bill passed by Democrats and signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in 2021.
Tax policy is often complicated, but it affects us all, and voters have a right to know how their family will be affected as well as its impact on the state.
– Cameron Hill of Colorado Common Cause
But Polis, who has often taken conservative stances on fiscal policy — including support for eliminating Colorado’s income tax altogether — has indicated he won’t sign a bill containing the requirement. income table, SB-222 sponsors said. As a returned statutory measure, the GG proposal did not require Polis’ signature and will become law if a majority of Colorado voters approve it.
If the GG proposal passes, future tax cut initiatives backed by conservative groups in Colorado could look very different on voter ballots. For example, if GG’s demands were applied to Proposition 121, the income tax cut that will appear alongside it on the 2022 ballot, voters would be told that most of its benefits will go to those who have higher incomes, with a median income receiving a tax reduction of less than $100 per year.
The same would apply to potential future income tax increases. Under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a 1992 anti-tax constitutional amendment, all ballot measures intended to increase tax revenue must begin with wording, in capital letters, indicating the annual or total amount of the increase. of the tax – regardless of how the burden is distributed.
This requirement meant that even Initiative 271a 2020 proposal by progressive groups that sought to lower taxes for all Coloradians earning less than $250,000 while gradually raising them for higher income brackets, began: “WILL STATE TAXES BE RAISED OF $2,000,000,000 ANNUALLY…” The measure failed to qualify for the ballot.
Conservative Proponents of Proposition 121, including the Denver-based Independence Institute, oppose the GG Proposition, arguing that its purpose is already served by information in the Blue Book. Path to Zero, an issue committee affiliated with the Independence Institute, has registered with the office of the Colorado secretary of state to oppose the GG proposal and other 2022 ballot measures backed by progressives.
“Frustrated by recent Citizens’ Ballot initiatives to cut income taxes, supporters of big government believe that having such a chart in the poll’s headline will persuade more voters to oppose future cuts. income tax rates,” the Independence Institute wrote in its 2022. voter guide.
A thematic committee supporting the GG proposal, Coloradans for Ballot Transparency, was registered in April. He received $755,000 in campaign contributions, supplemented by a $500,000 donation from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit “dark money” organization that is not held to disclose its donors.
A poll last month by the Yes on GG campaign found that 67% of likely voters in Colorado supported the measure, with just 13% opposed.