DENVER — Governor Jared Polis is calling on state lawmakers to look at ways to reduce taxes, including the state income tax.
Lawmakers will consider at least one proposal this year, which was just introduced by Republicans. But it could be a tough sell convincing Democratic lawmakers to jump on board with any tax cut proposal.
According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the average Coloradan pays over $25,000 a year in local, state, and federal taxes combined. In his State of the State address on Thursday, Polis called on lawmakers in the Democratically-controlled legislature to cut taxes.
“I know some Democrats in the past have been skeptical of reducing our income tax rate, but cutting the income tax rate is the most effective way to further our economic growth,” Polis said.
Most Democrats did not applaud and remained seated after the governor's statement.
Polis also invoked former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, reminding lawmakers of tax cuts passed while they were in office.
“We're for reducing any of the three types of taxes we have as a state income tax, sales tax, property tax,” Polis told Denver7. “The fact that we have such a big [TABOR] surplus of about $1.6 to $1.8 billion this year means the tax rates are too high. So rather than take it from people, sit on it for a year and then maybe send some of it back, we just shouldn't take it from people in the first place. And that's really what I'm advocating for.”
State Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat, said while she supports much of what the governor said in his speech, any potential tax cuts will need “more nuance and robust conversations.”
“We have to make some very difficult conversations when it comes to our budget priorities,” said Herod. “And so, as we talk about cutting, where are we cutting from, and how does that impact our other priorities, that’s always going to cause pause within the Democratic caucus until we get into those details.”
Republicans said while they had concerns about some of the governor’s proposals — which they say would lead to too much spending — they agree with him that taxes are too high.
“It sounds like the governor is finally ready to actually work on the income tax issue, which we've been asking for years,” said House Minority Leader Mike Lynch.
Republicans introduced a bill to cut the state income tax rate from 4.4% to 4.0%.
“We want to make sure that the people have the money and they put that back into the economy. If we want the economy to grow, we must make sure that we are freeing up the citizens to not be overtaxed and overburdened,” said Lynch.
Polis said he hopes Democrats and Republicans can put together a balanced proposal.
“It'll probably have some of what Democrats want, some of what Republicans want,” Polis said. “But fundamentally, at the end of the day, if we are over-collecting taxes less, then I think that's something we could all be enthusiastic about.”