By MATT SOPER and JANICE RICH

“Amendment B freezes property tax rates, blocks hundreds of millions in looming tax increases on small busiusnness, and stabilizes funding to law enforcement.”

— Walker Stapleton,

former GOP state treasurer

Taxpayers deserve protections from reckless government spending fueled by ever-increasing taxes. It is puzzling, however, that a handful of elected officials point to the Gallagher Amendment as source of taxpayer protections.

The fact is, it is the Taxpayers Bill of Rights that protects taxpayers in Colorado, not Gallagher. Gallagher, named after its author, Denver Democrat and career politician Dennis Gallagher, is about one thing and one thing only — increasing taxes on the state’s businesses.

That is why it shouldn’t be a surprise that Colorado’s leading conservatives support repealing Gallagher through Amendment B, leaders like former GOP Sen. Hank Brown, former GOP Attorney General John Suthers, former GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams, longtime GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams, the Farm Bureau, Club 20 and chambers of commerce in Colorado’s most conservative communities, including Grand Junction, Fruita, Colorado Springs, and Greeley.

The vast majority of rural Republicans in the legislature voted for Amendment B. The Montrose County GOP is a yes on B, too.

For nearly four decades, Gallagher’s Denver defenders have tried to convince communities that their flawed property tax creation is in Colorado’s best interest. In reality, it has mostly helped the wealthiest neighborhoods on the Front Range at the expense of nearly everyone else, especially rural Colorado. Gallagher’s formulas are largely driven by Denver and Boulder real estate trends, and Denver and Boulder receive the bulk of the tax cuts while the rest of the state picks up the tab.

Ask yourself, western Colorado — when was the last time you ever received one of those property tax cuts that Gallagher’s defenders always talk about? The answer is probably never, because the Gallagher Amendment triggers other laws that consistently ratchet property taxes upward on rest of the state, outside of Denver.

One of Gallagher’s great myths is that it keeps property taxes low for homeowners by ensuring businesses pay their “fair share.” Fiscal conservatives and small business leaders across Colorado, supporters of free enterprise, know the reality.

Gallagher’s outdated formula states 55 percent of property taxes must come from main street businesses, farms, and ranches, but these properties make up only 20 percent of the state’s total property value. There is only one way to make 20% of the property pay 55% of the tax, and that is to tax the 20% of property owned by farmers and small businesses aggressively. Gallagher has simply become a method for Denver’s out-of-control real estate market to keep giving itself tax breaks by sticking our hard-working local businesses with the check. Next year, Gallagher means a $250 million tax increase on our local businesses.

The head of the National Federation of Independent Businesses has warned that if Gallagher’s property tax increases are allowed to take effect next year, many struggling small businesses will be pushed over the edge to insolvency.

If a punitive tax rate on business wasn’t enough, Gallagher’s assault on rural communities is also draining budgets for local fire, law enforcement, and ambulance services.

This is why law enforcement leaders and first responders, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the State’s Fire Chiefs, are a YES on B.

A NO vote on Amendment B is a vote to, in a very real way, defund law enforcement.

Amendment B puts a stop to this unfair, and failed deal by repealing Gallagher from our constitution. And it does so in a balanced way.

B freezes property tax rates for everyone and requires a vote of the people before property tax rates can be increased.

Colorado homeowners currently pay the third lowest property tax rate in the nation, and Amendment B keeps that rate in place. B gives firefighters, police, and vital local services stability, and prevents local businesses and farms from paying a property tax rate that will soon be five times what is paid by residential property owners.

Conservatives and business leaders in rural Colorado understand that recovery for our local economies is going to be achieved by ending Gallagher and locking-in property tax rates for everyone. Vote for conservative reform of a broken property tax law. Vote Yes on Amendment B.

Matt Soper is a Republican representative for Colorado House District 54. Janice Rich is a Republican representative for Colorado House District 55.

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