Democrats are waving the white flag of surrender over the Senior Homestead Exemption. Yesterday it was announced that Speaker McNulty and House Republicans would get their top legislative priority — Democrats would not try to suspend the senior property tax cut again after receiving reports of increased revenues.
After fresh revenue reports showed the state with an extra $300 million in tax revenue, Democrats on the Joint Budget Committee said that the Senior Homestead Exemption would not be suspended again, avoiding a tax increase for seniors trying to stay in their homes.
Reports Ivan Moreno of the AP:
DENVER—Colorado's improving economy has helped lawmakers avoid the most contentious debate of the year—restoring a suspended property tax break for senior citizens.
Lawmakers learned Monday that sunny fiscal projections—a revenue boost from personal income and business taxes—combined with money left over after budgeting completed so far renders moot a fight over the nearly $100 million tax break for seniors.
…Getting the tax break represents a huge coup for Republicans, who were on a collision course with Gov. John Hickenlooper and fellow Democrats who insisted the state could not afford the tax exemption in the upcoming budget. Many expected a bitter election-year showdown over the question.
…Under current law, the tax break ranges from $292 for a $100,000 home, to $583 for homes worth $200,000 or more. It benefits an estimated 167,714 seniors, according to legislative staff. [Peak emphasis]
The fight is not completely over, as Hickenlooper's budget maven, Henry Sobanet, told The Denver Post that Hickenlooper still favors suspending the tax break.
Despite Hickenlooper’s refusing to back down in the face of a legislative defeat, he is likely to lose this fight. Both Democrats and Republicans on the pivotal Joint Budget Committee have said the suspension of the tax increase is unlikely to even be brought forward as a bill.
If the Legislature takes no action, Hick will lose. The tax break is set to expire this year, and without another bill to extend the suspension, the tax break will automatically go into effect next budget year.
The simple fact is Hickenlooper and Democrats have lost. McNulty and House Republicans have won. We know it would pain Tim Hoover too much to write that, so we felt it necessary to.
Hickenlooper's legislative rebuke is a notable one. He has been publicly opposing the Senior Homestead Exemption since last year.
That Hickenlooper even took a position at all is also worth noting.
The Governor has preferred hiding under his proverbial desk to standing in front of it taking positions on legislative issues. He even managed to avoid taking a position on last year's proposed $3 billion tax hike known as Prop 103.
But in taking a position against the Senior Homestead Exemption, Hickenlooper was making a rare venture to the legislative ledge.
In losing this battle, a little bit of Hickenlooper's sheen comes off. His heretofore loss-less record is no longer.
Let this be a lesson to the lily livered Republicans in the Legislature — sometimes it pays to take on the Governor. So stop hiding in the shadows and pick some more fights. Hick ain't untouchable.