Two Disastrous Property Tax Ballot Measures Headed for the November Ballot

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: June 13, 2024

When Coloradans get their ballots in the mail this fall, they will be voting on at least one measure, and perhaps two, that would have disastrous consequences for Colorado kids and families.  

  • Proposed Initiative 108, currently approved for signature-gathering, would cut property tax assessment rates and require the state to reimburse local governments for the lost revenue. This would result in having to cut an estimated $3 billion from existing programs and services in the state budget in the first year alone. 
  • Initiative 50, which has already been approved for the ballot, would change our state’s constitution to create a 4% annual growth cap on property tax revenue and require statewide voter approval for any community to keep property tax revenue above the cap. This would result in an estimated loss of $550 million in 2026, $1 billion in 2027, and increasingly larger amounts in future years. 

Property taxes are a critical source of revenue for public schools in our state, contributing 46% of the funding for our public schools in FY 2023-24. Property taxes also fund critical community services like fire and water. In some local Colorado communities, property taxes help pay for other services that support families, like early care.     

Property taxes across the state have increased since the 2020 repeal of the Gallagher Amendment, which artificially reduced residential property tax rates when it was in effect. In response, the legislature passed a bipartisan property tax bill (SB24-233) during the 2024 legislative session, which will provide responsible property tax relief to property owners while protecting state and local budgets. This property tax bill will ensure that Colorado can still pay for critical services and programs that help kids and families thrive.  

Despite this bipartisan solution, proponents continue to move forward with these two measures for the November ballot, which would devastate Colorado’s local and state budgets.

Proposed Initiative 108 and Initiative 50 would dramatically limit our ability to fund critical services and programs to support children and their families at the state and local level.  

The harmful impact of both measures, or either of them alone, on Colorado kids and families cannot be overstated. The Children’s Campaign works across our issue areas to advance policies that help kids and families thrive, and these efforts are already consistently under threat due to the constraints on our state budget caused by TABOR, an only-in-Colorado policy that, among other things, requires the state to return money it collects above a certain cap directly to taxpayers.  

During the 2024 legislative session, the Joint Budget Committee and the legislature were forced to make difficult decisions when the state had less revenue than originally anticipated. Policymakers struggled to find funding to pass important policies to improve the lives of Colorado kids and families.  

Colorado failed to fully fund its public schools for nearly 14 years partly due to TABOR-related funding shortfalls. The consequences of underfunded schools are dire – only one out of three Colorado students are performing on grade level. Other vital services and programs that serve families are also limited by the cap on spending. 

Proposed Initiative 108 and Initiative 50, or either of them alone, would wildly exacerbate Colorado’s revenue problem, making it nearly impossible to make adequate investments in programs and services that support children and families and improve our state’s financial sustainability.  

Our state’s economy and the economies of our local communities would not be able to survive such a blow without gutting investments in kids and families. 

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Manager of Special Policy Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she works across the organization and with external stakeholders to develop and oversee the implementation of the Campaign’s engagement on strategic policy priorities Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.