At town hall, Thurlow suggests TABOR fixes

Rep. Dan Thurlow has a couple of ideas he wants to present during next year’s session of the Colorado Legislature, the Grand Junction Republican told people at a town hall meeting on state tax issues Thursday.

First, Thurlow wants to try again to change how the Legislature calculates how much the state’s annual spending plan can grow each year.

Second, he wants to freeze the state’s property assessment rate for residential homes at the current 7.1 percent.

The town hall meeting, which drew about 50 people to Two Rivers Convention Center, was designed to educate Mesa County residents about the impacts of the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limited how much the state budget can grow, and the 1982 Gallagher Amendment, which equalized how residential property is taxed and placed a greater tax burden on business property.

After that was done, Thurlow presented his two ideas, asking what the audience thought of them.

“I like parts of TABOR … but the definition of the TABOR revenue cap, inflation plus population growth … is the wrong measure,” Thurlow said. “On Gallagher … it changes the ratio between personal property and business property, and ratchets down the amount of money that we can keep locally, which means that the state has to match it. It creates a convoluted process.”

Thurlow would put both of his ideas to a vote of the people.

While the audience was generally in favor of both ideas, Thurlow’s problem is selling it to the Legislature.

During this year’s session, his bill to alter how the TABOR cap is calculated won approval in the Democratic-controlled Colorado House on a bipartisan vote, although that vote included only a handful of Republicans.

The bill later died in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which the Republicans control, on a 3-2 vote. Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, cast one of those dissenting votes.

Thurlow did not present the proposed Gallagher idea during this year’s session, and said it may take more time to iron out the details and gain acceptance among the 100 legislators before introducing it next year.


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