Colorado voters untie Gallagher fiscal knot but were mixed on other tax cuts, increases on ballot
On the same ballot that cemented statewide Democratic power not seen since 1936, Colorado’s voters once again sent their elected leaders mixed messages on taxes and spending.
They voted to raise taxes in one measure, and cut them in another.
They authorized expansive new social programs, while limiting the state’s ability to afford the programs already in place.
And perhaps most significantly, they repealed the Gallagher Amendment, relinquishing its stranglehold on local tax policy and untangling one of the key threads in Colorado’s intractable fiscal knot. But not without tying a new knot elsewhere with the passage of Proposition 117, which prevents state lawmakers from creating certain fee-based government programs without voter approval.
In other words, it was par for the course for a fickle Colorado electorate.
“I’ve been a part of the fiscal policy landscape in Colorado for a long time,” said Carol Hedges, executive director for the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a progressive tax policy organization. “This isn’t the first time we’ve had mixed results.”
And once again, it left unanswered questions. “I don’t know what it means,” Hedges added. “I think it was an election where immediate pocketbook issues and immediate family issues were close at hand, and I don’t know how to reconcile all of these (contradictions).”
If history’s any guide, the decisions voters made at the ballot box in 2020 will have far-reaching consequences for state and local budgets for decades to come.
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