Coloradans to vote in November on measure to redirect tax revenue to affordable housing programs

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Posted at 2:42 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 16:42:36-04

DENVER — A third citizen-referred measure, which would put a small portion of state income tax revenue toward affordable housing programs across Colorado without raising taxes, will be on the Colorado ballot in November.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office determined that organizers for Proposed Initiative 108, called “Dedicated State Income Tax Revenue for Affordable Housing Programs,” had collected and submitted enough valid signatures for the measure to be on November’s ballot.

If approved by Colorado voters, the measure would redirect 0.1% of state income tax revenue from the General Fund to the State Affordable Housing Fund, which would in turn transfer 60% of that revenue to the Affordable Housing Financing Fund and the other 40% to the Affordable Housing Support Fund.

The money would be available for grants for local governments and loans for some nonprofits to acquire land for affordable housing. It would also create an affordable housing equity program to further invest in multi-family rentals for lower-income families so they don’t have to pay more than 30% of their income on rent. It would also provide debt financing for affordable housing projects. And further, it would create a program to provide for down payment assistance for lower-income homebuyers and another to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness.

Nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff estimate that if the measure is approved, the transfers for the next half of the fiscal year would amount to $135 million, then $270 million for the full FY 2023-24. Between $4 million and $6 million each year would be put toward administering the new programs and procuring contracts.

“Some households that would otherwise face housing insecurity may find stable housing under the measure, increasing their financial security and opportunities for employment,” LCS wrote in its analysis. “By reducing refunds to taxpayers, the measure decreases after-tax household and business income that may be spent or saved elsewhere in the economy.”

The money would not be subject to annual TABOR limits, which the state exceeded and had to send money out to residents this year. But if economic forecasts project revenue will follow below the TABOR cap, the General Assembly would be allowed to temporarily reduce the amount of money that would go toward the State Affordable Housing Fund.

The latest forecasts estimate revenue would be above the cap this current fiscal year and the next, so the money toward the affordable housing fund would come out of that potential refund money.

Proponents of the measure claim the money could lead eventually to 170,000 new affordable homes and rental units and increase the share of affordable homes by 3% annually.

“Too many Coloradans can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods where they set down roots,” said Brian Rossbert, the executive director of Housing Colorado. “That’s forcing families to make difficult relocation decisions, robbing communities of essential services and intensifying our homelessness crisis. This measure is desperately needed if we want future generations of Coloradans to thrive.”

The measure is the third referred by Colorado citizens to make this November’s ballot. The Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022, called Initiative 58, would create a natural medicine regulated access model, which would create healing center for patients and remove criminal penalties for people ages 21+ involving certain plant or fungi-based psychedelic medicines.

A second psychedelics-related measure failed to gather enough valid signatures to be put on the ballot, which was referred to as Initiative 61. Another measure, which aimed to boost teacher funding in Colorado, also failed to make the ballot.

The third measure referred by citizens that will be on the ballot is Initiative 31, called “State Income Tax Rate Reduction,” would reduce the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.4%, which would save taxpayers some money each year, but which would also reduce state revenues.