DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s economy is one of the nation’s strongest, but lawmakers from both parties have plans to improve it during the legislative term that begins this week.
Lawmakers want to cut taxes for businesses and debate liability law for construction companies. Democrats also want to look at helping minority-owned businesses receive state contracts, while Republicans want to roll back a tougher renewable energy standard for rural electricity providers.
The economic plans were outlined Monday in a forum hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver.
One of the biggest economic changes this session comes in the form of a tax break for businesses. Democrats say they’ll support a measure to give businesses refundable tax credits up to $25,000 on their personal property taxes.
In previous years Democrats have resisted GOP calls to cut the tax. Colorado’s improving economy, and subsequent state budget surplus, may have changed the Democrats’ mood.
“Certainly we can give some tax relief,” Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino said.
House Republican Leader Brian DelGrosso told the crowd to expect the GOP to applaud the property-tax cut and continue pushing for other tax cuts, as in previous years.
“I think you’ll see a lot of the same from the Republican caucus,” he said.
Economic forecasts delivered to lawmakers last month predicted a strong labor market and low inflation for 2014. The Legislature’s economists predicted the state’s General Fund would end next year with a surplus of $512 million.
Democrats told the business group they want much of that surplus devoted to education. Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said the administration wants to see big additions to the state’s higher education budget and to K-12 programs for students learning English.
Legislators from both parties predicted education would be the big-ticket item for surplus spending, especially in light of voters’ rejection last year of an income tax hike to pay for education enhancements.
Another economic matter likely to face lawmakers this year is a change to liability law for construction companies. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called on lawmakers to revise a 2010 law about defective construction, which he said has “killed the market” for development in parts of Denver.
Lawmakers didn’t mention the construction liability measure in their remarks.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
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