How Much Money Did State Lawmakers Actually Save You?

DENVER (CBS4)– As Gov. Jared Polis and Democrats in the state Legislature reflected on the 2022 session Thursday, one theme emerged – lowering the cost of living as inflation soars to 8.5%.

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The governor said they found hundreds of ways to save Coloradans money this session, “Relief for small business owners, tax credits, reducing fees.”

Polis and Democratic leaders point to investments in affordable housing, a temporary cut in property taxes, and a money-saving change in how some businesses file taxes as examples of how they’re helping people save money.

Republicans say don’t buy it.

“We have just finished a session that has seen our Democratic colleagues continue the relentless expansion of state government,” said Sen. Bob Gardner.

Over the last three years, Gardner says Democrats have added 16 new state offices and passed 17 bills with all kinds of additional fees, “Soon you’ll be paying fees every time flush toilet, throw away tires or bag groceries. They’ve already had to pay fees on energy usage, fuel products and even on health care.”

There are also conflicting fiscal policies. While Democrats invested millions of dollars in affordable housing, for example, they passed new building codes that the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce says will add a minimum of $13,000 to the average home price. And, while they reduced some fees for businesses, they added regulations that could cancel out the savings.

(credit: CBS)

Other savings may not be as obvious. For example, lawmakers passed a bill to reduce property taxes but it won’t mean you’ll pay less, just less than you would have had they not passed the bill. The same goes for the money they put into the Unemployment Trust Fund. It lowers what would have come out of businesses’ payroll.

While there are some smaller cuts to vehicle registrations and professional licenses, Common Sense Institute says the 12 biggest reductions of the 2022 session aren’t new savings. Chris Brown with CSI says the cuts add up to $854,000 but almost half of that is money taxpayers would have received as bigger refunds under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Instead, Democrats provided targeted tax relief for women’s hygiene products, for example, mass transit, and affordable housing. They also count as savings a temporary suspension of a fee on gas that they imposed last year.

Some of the savings may not be as obvious. For example, lawmakers passed a bill to reduce property taxes but it won’t mean you’ll pay less, just less than you would have had they not passed the bill. The same goes for the money they put into the Unemployment Trust Fund. It lowers what would have come out of businesses’ payroll.

The legislature passed about 450 bills as of Wednesday morning. Another 88 bills were still on the calendar. Republicans say they introduced 14 bills aimed at making Colorado more affordable but only one of them passed the Democrat-controlled legislature.