Apr 15, 2024 - Politics

Democrats unveil new plan to gut TABOR and direct money to anti-poverty measure

Colorado child tax credits under House Bill 1311
Data: Colorado Legislative Council; Table: Axios Visuals; Colorado is forecast to refund $6 billion in surplus tax collections in the next three years.

Colorado is forecast to refund $6 billion in surplus tax collections in the next three years.

Yes, but: Democrats want to redirect one-third, or roughly $2 billion, to parents making less than $95,000 through a child tax credit under a new bill.

  • The maximum tax credit for a child under age 6 would be $3,200 and $2,400 for children 6-16.
  • The amount of the tax credit would decrease by hundreds of dollars for every $5,000 in income, a fiscal analysis shows.

Why it matters: The new distribution method would upend the constitutional provision despised by liberals and instead send TABOR refund money to their favored anti-poverty policy.

  • It's possible that only parents could receive rebates in certain years — ending the broader refunds from this year's tax filings.

Context: To abolish the spending caps in the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, liberal interests must win at the ballot, where they've failed in recent years.

  • To gut TABOR's intent, however, it would only take support from the Democratic-led governor's office and Legislature.

The big picture: The effort mirrors a similar one at the federal level. The one-year expansion of the child tax credit in 2021 as part of the pandemic relief package cut child poverty nearly in half, lifting up nearly 3 million, advocates say.

What they're saying: "We believe that this is one of the best things we can be doing, to try to help pull kids out of poverty and make a real difference in their lives not just for the short term, but in terms of their brain development and how it impacts their overall life trajectory," sponsor and state Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy (D-Lakewood) told CPR.

The other side: Republicans are challenging the move, which also has drawn criticism from moderate Democrats.

  • "It shows somewhat of a deep contempt for the voters," Rep. Bob Marshall (D-Highlands Ranch) told the public radio station. "We're trying to find a way around [TABOR] because we don't like the fact that we have to give $2 billion back to the taxpayers."

What's next: The bill is set for a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee as soon as this week.

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