Republicans are fuming this morning about a bill pushed by Democrats over the weekend aimed at providing modest relief to struggling Coloradans who’ve faced steady rent increases.
Rep. Ken DeGraaf (R-Colorado Springs), for example, says — baselessly — that the rental assistance bill exposes an underlying Democratic agenda to end property ownership in Colorado.
“What we heard from everybody is 100% of Colorado needs assistance, but they only want to help the renters,” said DeGraaf on KNUS radio’s George Brauchler show this morning. “And this just goes back to their agenda of driving people out of property ownership and driving those properties into the hands of nonprofit organizations.”
DeGraaf is referring to a bill, expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO), that allocates $30 million for at-risk renters, boosting the budget of the state’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to $65 million. Renters would qualify for help if they have household incomes of less than 80 percent of their community’s median income and are at risk of eviction or displacement. The funds will go to landlords via nonprofit groups that will vet the allocation of funds.
“The housing crisis is impacting us all, and we must utilize every opportunity to help out hardworking renters,” said Rep. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) a sponsor of the bill in a news release. “We hear Coloradans loud and clear: we love our state, but the rising cost of living and housing is making it hard for working folks to get by — both for homeowners and renters. My bill directs $30 million in rental assistance to keep Coloradans housed and provides responsible relief to support Coloradans who need it most.”
“Renters in my district are struggling to keep up with the high cost of living and continual rent increases,” Rep. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora), another of the bill’s sponsors said in a news release. “Allocating additional funding for proven successful rental assistance programs means more Coloradans will stay housed. While we continue to work on long-term solutions to lower housing costs and reduce evictions, this is a critical way we can get immediate relief directly to the families that need it most.”
Democrats are also expected to pass a law to lower property tax increases, without eliminating the increases completely.
“Homeowners and renters alike are struggling with the high cost of housing in Colorado,” said Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood in a news release. “This bill makes meaningful reductions in property taxes while protecting funding for K-12 public schools and fire districts. The next step is for every local government to take a hard look at their own budget. Property taxes are primarily the concern of local governments, and only they know whether they can afford to go beyond our legislation by lowering their own mill levies.”
Another bill is also making its way through the Capitol mandating that all taxpayers receive the same TABOR refund this year, meaning that low-earning taxpayers, who pay less tax, will get the same refund as high-earning taxpayers.
Overall, DeGraaf called the Democrats’ work during the special session an “insult to Colorado” because Democrats “didn’t address taxation in a serious way.”