NFIB director: Businesses fare well in election

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Tony Gagliardi NFIB

Tony Gagliardi says he’s pleased overall with the results of an election in which Colorado voters repealed a property tax amendment, cut income tax and instituted an approval process for new fees.

The state director of the National Federation of  Independent Business said he was less pleased with the passage of another measure creating a paid family and medical leave program he said will impose a
“one-size-fits-all” mandate on businesses.

The results of races between candidates constituted a mixed bag, Gagliardi said, with the defeat of Cory Gardner in his bid for
re-election to the U.S. Senate, but the victory of Lauren Boebert to represent the Third Congressional District in Western Colorado.

“One silver lining from election night is that a number of incumbent pro small business legislators will be returning to their respective chambers,” Gagliardi said.

That included Janice Rich, the incumbent in House District 55, and Matt Soper, the incumbent in House District 54.

Among other statewide measures on a lengthy ballot, Colorado voters approved Amendment B repealing the so-called Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution.

Approved in 1982, the amendment set different assessment rates on residential and nonresidential property in Colorado, shifting over time a greater proportion of the property tax burden from homeowners to businesses.

Gagliardi said the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment will offfer more stability and predictability.

Colorado voters also approved Proposition 116, cutting the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent.

Gagliardi welcomed the cut. “We should have done that a long time ago.”

In addition, voters approved Proposition 117. The measure requires state lawmakers to put on the ballot on new  fees expected to bring in at least $100 million in the first five years.

Gagliardi said the NFIB long has opposed the use of fees to get around constitutional limits on raising taxes — in particular business filing fees.

The NFIB brought a lawsuit alleging the Colorado Secretary of State repeatedly violated the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights in raising business filing fees. The lawsuit maintained the increased charges were actually tax hikes that should have been submitted for approval to Colorado voters. According to the lawsuit, more than $20 million a year in business filing fees were used to fund unrelated functions.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled there were insufficient facts in the record to resolve the dispute and declined to decide whether increased business filing fees should be viewed as taxes.

Gagliardi said he was disappointed, though, in the passage of yet another ballot measure in Proposition 118 creating a paid family and medical leave program.

NFIB members — most of them small business owners — don’t oppose paid leave, Gagliardi said. Rather, they oppose the mandate Proposition 118 imposes and what amounts to $1.3 billion in new taxes.

Proposition 118 guarantees employees can take at least 12 weeks of paid leave from their jobs for family medical purposes. The leave will be funded by fees paid by workers and employers.

Gagliardi said Proposition 118 exempts employers with fewer than 10 employees from contributing to the plan — but not the employees.

In a statewide race between candidates, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, defeated U.S. Sen. Cory Gardener, a Republican, in his bid for re-election.

Lauren Boebert, a Rifle restauranteur who won a Republican primary election against five-term incumbent U.S. Rep Scott Tipton, went on to win the general election to represent the Third Congressional District. Boebert defeated Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush, a former county commissioner and state legislator  from Steamboat Springs.

Gagliardi said Boerbert will bring to her duties her experiences as a small business owner.

In races for seats in the Colorado House of Representatives, two Western Colorado incumbents were among the winners. Janice Rich, a Republican from Grand Junction, defeated Scott Beilfuss in House District 53. Matt Soper, a Republican from Delta, beat AliceMarie Slaven-Emond in House District 54.

In Mesa County, Janet Rowland was elected to the county commission in District 3, defeating Dave Edwards. Rowland, a Republican, served on the commission from 2005 to 2013. Cody Davis, also a Republican, defeated Kathryn Bedell in District 1.

In other election results, voters approved Measure 7A, a property tax increase to raise additional funding for the Colorado River District.

Voters also approved Measure 2A, allowing the City of Grand Junction to keep tax revenues above limits imposed by the state constitution.