Statewide Ballot Issues:
Gallagher Amendment Repeal and Paid Medical and Family Leave
The Boulder Chamber hosted a Policy Roundtable via Zoom with state leaders to discuss the Gallagher Amendment repeal (Amendment B) and Paid Medical and Family Leave (Initiative 283) on August 13, 2020.
As the state continues to grapple with the economic impacts of COVID-19, Coloradans will vote on a number of key issues this fall that will affect state funding and the business sector. In preparation for this vote, the Boulder Chamber convened state leaders to discuss two key issues with our members—repealing the Gallagher Amendment and Paid Medical and Family Leave (Initiative 283).
Based on feedback from our discussion on these issues, as well as membership polling, the Boulder Chamber Board of Directors voted to support the Gallagher Amendment Repeal and voted to remain neutral on Paid Medical and Family Leave.
The following provides background information on the two state ballot issues.
Gallagher Amendment Repeal (Amendment B)
The Gallagher Amendment limits the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property tax revenue equals 45% of the total share of state property tax revenue and non-residential property tax revenue equals 55% of the total share of state property tax revenue. Under the Gallagher Amendment, property tax assessment rates were initially set in the state constitution to be 29% for non-residential property and 21% for residential property. The residential assessment rate is adjusted every two years to maintain the 45%-55% split between the total share of property tax revenue. The current residential property tax assessment rate is now 7.15% and expected to continue decreasing. This trajectory negatively impacts funding for fire protection, police, ambulance, hospitals and kindergarten through twelfth grade education, while placing a disproportionate property tax impact on commercial property owners.
In line with the Boulder Chamber’s consistent efforts to address the disproportionately high tax rates on commercial property due to the Gallagher Amendment, we support Amendment B.
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Paid Medical and Family Leave (Initiative 283)
Employers often wrestle with the challenge of providing time off for staff when employees face significant life challenges, like the birth of a newborn or a parent’s illness. While some organizations provide robust leave benefits, the health care pressures created by the pandemic accelerated the conversation at the state level. Initiative 283 creates a state paid family and medical leave program for employees with a serious health condition, caring for a new child or for a family member with a serious health condition, or a need for leave related to a family member’s military deployment or for safe leave. It establishes 12 weeks of family and medical leave, with an additional four weeks for pregnancy or childbirth complications, with a cap on the weekly benefit amount. Critics of the program note that this new state department would require 197 new state employees and would include a $1.3 B tax increase.
Boulder Chamber’s Perspective on Initiative 283
The Boulder Chamber recognizes the need to provide paid medical and family leave benefits for our workforce, and Initiative 283 offers one approach. Paid leave is an important resource for employees, providing them with security to address personal needs while protecting income and careers. We also understand businesses can benefit from insurance that covers the cost of employee leave and retains valuable workforce talent.
With respect to Initiative 283, specifically, we acknowledge that any program in the paid medical and family leave space will have costs to either businesses and employees, or both, and finding the right balance is difficult. Yet during this challenging economic climate, we are concerned that businesses and families are struggling to meet basic needs. We also find it troubling that the description of who is covered under Initiative 283 isn’t more specific.
In light of our support for a paid medical and family benefit, but our specific concerns with the timing and scope of Initiative 283, the Boulder Chamber is taking a neutral position on this ballot initiative. We urge our business leaders to cast a vote on Initiative 283 that reflects their own balance of interests with respect to the benefit it attempts to secure for our workforce.
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If you have questions or concerns about these issues, please contact Boulder Chamber Senior Director of Policy Programs Lori Call at email@example.com or 303-938-2084.