(“Adding all of this stuff up without any actual kind of analysis underneath it doesn’t really tell anybody anything. You’re just adding up unlike numbers.” — Promoted by Colorado Pols)
By Madeleine Schmidt for the Colorado Times Recorder
University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, the only Republican elected to a statewide office in Colorado and a rumored 2022 governor candidate, has been metaphorically shouting that figure from the rooftops recently.
In recent newspaper columns, Ganahl has repeatedly cited a report from the Common Sense Institute (CSI), a business-oriented research organization in Denver, that tallied the cost of new taxes and fees resulting from state policy changes over the last few years on individuals and businesses.
The report, titled “Colorado’s Competitiveness: The Challenge of Economic Recovery Under More than $1.8 Billion in New Regulations, Taxes and Fees,” adds up fiscal notes for a wide variety of ballot measures and laws passed since 2018, including measures related to affordable housing, health care, and, notably, the paid family and medical leave program that Colorado voters approved in 2020.
In a column penned for the Colorado Springs Gazette earlier this month titled “Colorado Drops Out of the Jobs Race,” Ganahl writes that “every onerous regulation comes with a cost — lost jobs, more red tape and money taken from the family budget. The costs are taking a toll. In fact, earlier this year, Common Sense Institute estimated the cumulative cost of new taxes and fees will reach a whopping $1.8 billion in the next three to five years.”
She also underscores the $1.8 billion number in another Gazette column from June, this time erroneously stating that the costs tallied in CSI’s report come from “this last legislative session alone,” when, in fact, it includes both laws and voter-approved ballot measures over the past few years.
“The Common Sense Institute issued a study calculating the cost of proposed regulations, taxes and fees from this last legislative session alone,” she writes. “Hold on to your hat — it’s a whopping $1.8 billion. That’s billion with a B. That’s bad news for our economy, for businesses and for families.”
Here’s what she isn’t saying: CSI attributes more than two-thirds of that $1.8 billion to Proposition 118, which created a state-run insurance program that allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for personal medical reasons or care for a new child or family member. The program, which was overwhelmingly approved by Colorado voters (58%-42%) last year, is funded by a payroll tax split evenly between employers and employees and amounts to 0.9 percent of an employee’s total wages.