Lawmakers amend, OK enterprise tax credit bill

DENVER — With just a few hours left before the end of the 2010 session Wednesday, the Colorado Legislature approved a measure temporarily capping enterprise zone credits.

But that didn’t happen before lawmakers made one final change to House Bill 1200.

Instead of imposing a three-year cap of those credits at $250,000 a year, a move that would have affected about 30 of the 5,500 businesses located inside enterprise zones, the cap was doubled.

Under it, companies that earn more than $500,000 will have to delay for three years credits they otherwise would claim on their state tax returns. The increased cap lowers to 18 the number of companies affected by the bill, which lawmakers said was needed to give the state some cushion in keeping next year’s budget balanced.

Regardless of the lower number of businesses affected by the bill, Republicans still opposed the idea.

“This is an argument that we’ve been having down here repeatedly, and that is: ‘Whose cash flow is more important, the private sector or government?’” said Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton. “I happen to think that the private sector’s cash flow is more important, because if the private sector has more money, then revenue is going to return to the public sector, simple Economics 101.”

Sen. Maryanne Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, said the bill wasn’t needed to balance this year’s budget but that it could be necessary if the next state economic forecast due next month continues to show declining revenues.

“This bill was part of a larger package of bills,” she said. “The point to it was not to address (the revenue shortfall), but so we didn’t have to reduce funding to K-12 education by an equivalent amount.”

Initially, the bill would have saved the state about $11.8 million. Under the change, Colorado won’t have to return about $5.9 million in revenue to some of the largest companies in the state.

Most of those companies include oil and gas drilling firms such as ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy. It also includes Xcel Energy and FedEx Ground.

The measure heads to Gov. Bill Ritter’s desk.


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