Two days after voters rejected Proposition HH, Gov. Jared Polis called a special session of the Colorado State Legislature. He says lawmakers need to produce a property tax relief plan before December -- when county accessors finalize tax bills -- or homeowners will face record increases.
To drive home the urgency of the situation, the governor donned safety glasses and took a bat to a glass case with a sign that read, "IN CASE OF NO PROP HH BREAK GLASS."
He pulled out a piece of paper and announced, "looks like a special session for property tax relief."
Polis directed state lawmakers to pass a bill providing relief for this upcoming tax year only during the special session and then impanel a task force to address rising property taxes long term, "we don't have a particular plan in the sense of the actual policy."
He says, at the minimum, he expects the legislature to use $200 million already set aside for property tax relief, but he says it can also tap the state's reserve fund and TABOR surplus to help backfill lost revenue to local governments and special districts.
"We ought to do what we can with the resources we have but the cost of an action is too high," he said.
Polis says he believes Prop HH failed because it was too complicated. Republican state Rep. Lisa Frizell -- a former county assessor -- says it also failed because the tax relief it offered was too modest. She says she had hoped the governor would have had a backup plan.
"This is serious and we need for the governor and the Democrats to take it seriously," she said. "Not political stunts like breaking glass with a bat."
Frizell brought a bill during the regular legislative session that would have limited any increase in property taxes to 10% for two years and convened a task force to provide permanent relief, but Democrats killed it.
A Republican group is now working on a ballot measure for next year modeled after her bill.
"Whether it compels the Democrats to come to the table and forge a solution for the short term is anybody's guess," she said.
But she is encouraged, she says, that the governor is calling for a bipartisan approach during the special session.
"It is time for us to all come to the table and hammer this out," she said.
The special session is set to begin Nov. 17 (the Friday before Thanksgiving) so lawmakers have incentive to work quickly. It takes at least three days to get a bill through both chambers.
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