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Property tax relief still being debated as special session heads into day 4 at Colorado State Capitol

Property tax relief still being debated as special session heads into day 4
Property tax relief still being debated as special session heads into day 4 03:27

While Gov. Jared Polis called lawmakers back to work to address property taxes after the failure of Proposition HH, a bill dealing with income taxes is the first one they sent to the governor in the special session.

The bill increases the state's earned income tax credit from $834 to $1,000 on average each year. It's expected to benefit about 430,000 Coloradans who make between $17,000 for an individual and $63,000 for a couple with kids.

State Rep. Mary Young, who sponsored the bill with state Rep. Jenny Willford, says the program has a proven record of success.

But there is a tradeoff. The money for the program - $185 million - comes from TABOR surplus. When combined with another bill that distributes TABOR refunds equally, it would reduce those refunds by $50.

Republican state Rep. Lisa Frizell says both bills are unfair.

House Republicans also pushed back on a bill expanding rental assistance saying renters don't pay property taxes and property taxes are the purpose of the special session.

State Rep. Mandy Lindsay, who sponsored the bill with state Rep. Leslie Herod, says landlords pass on the added expense.

"Renters aren't directly paying property taxes. They are indirectly paying property taxes," she said.

Her bill provides an additional $30 million -- on top of $35 million already allocated -- for everything from late and future rent payments to security deposits and utility bills.

Lindsay says her rent has nearly doubled in the last few years and the state has seen more than 44,000 evictions this year alone.

"You don't have to wait until you have that demand letter or you are in court with an eviction. As soon as you know you are going to be behind, as soon as your landlord knows you are going to be behind, you can apply for this assistance. We're trying to prevent people from getting to that eviction at the court," Lindsay said.

Under the bill, money would be distributed by nonprofits. Frizell says there's not enough oversight.

"So we could be giving $30 million. Be we don't know how much of that is going to the people who are in need," she said.

Republicans also opposed democrats' property tax relief bill, which provides $400 million to help homeowners and backfills lost revenue to schools, fire districts, ambulance districts, hospital districts and local governments with smaller property value increases. Lawmakers are also debating a bill that would create a task force to produce a long-term solution to rising property taxes.

The only bill to draw wide bipartisan support was a measure by state Sen. Jeff Bridges and state Sen. Rachael Zenzinger that allocates $5 million in state funds to leverage $35 million in federal dollars for a summer nutrition program for kids.

The special session is expected to wrap up Monday.

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