Corporate Tax Loopholes Cost Colorado Billions -- Let's Close Them

11/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Colorado has billions of dollars in corporate tax loopholes that we must close. They are welfare for corporations that cannot stand up to even the most cursory review:

  • They produce few if any jobs
  • They reward companies that are anti-union and do not provide decent benefits
  • They don't work

We need tax policies that produce jobs not just line the pocketbooks of a few industries who hire big time lobbyists to support their pet loophole. Tax credits are kind of the default position that many legislators come up with when they talk about economic development. They are sold as panaceas when all they truly are is expensive placebos. Times are tough. We are faced with cutting mental health programs, raising tuition, cutting medical services for the poor. Yet we have plenty of dough for corporate welfare that simply does not work. It's like giving your kid $5 to mow the lawn and giving the $5 whether the lawn is mowed or not. I asked the recipients of these corporate welfare chits to show me some proof they work. The next study I see showing they work will be the first. Here are some loopholes I want to eliminate and my ideas on ways the money might better be spent: Colorado has a lot of natural gas. Once it's sucked out of the ground and shipped to Ohio or Missouri power plants it's gone forever. When the gas is "severed" from the ground, we charge the driller a "severance" tax. We allow the driller to subtract or deduct most of its local property tax. As a result we have a lower effective severance tax rate than almost every other state. After we drop that property tax deduction, we'll still have one of the lowest severance taxes, but most years we'll have an additional $300 million in revenue. Your employer withholds taxes from your paycheck. That makes sure you pay your taxes. Out of state business partners and S corporation shareholders don't have anything withheld. Some pay their taxes anyway. We ought to collect from the rest. Before the company mails their check out of state, we need to withhold from them the same as from you. Right now Colorado is closing mental health facilities in Denver and Grand Junction. We've cut the rate we pay for health care to those indigent who qualify for Medicaid. We've cut the Health Care Services Fund. It pays local clinics to treat sick poor Coloradoans and keep them from jamming up our emergency rooms. We now tell sick poor Coloradoans, "No care for you." For the first time, downtown's Stout Street Clinic has a wait list of more than 400 mentally ill Coloradoans. In January we'll start work on the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2010. It looks like dropping revenue require us to cut services another $500 million. We'll cut mental health more, cut K-12 education and worse -- unless we close some of these loopholes. Now, just as in Washington we have:

  • Democrats who if you say something is anti-business even if completely untrue they hide for cover and don't come out and
  • Republicans who might do the right thing if they get enough calls, letters and e-mail urging them to do so.

Please help me end big corporate welfare in Colorado.

Contact your Legislator regardless of party. Here's a link to easily find out your Legislator:

  • Tell them to vote to close the corporate welfare loopholes;
  • Write a letter to the editor, post a comment on one of the blogs and let others know why this is important.

What this is about is fundamentally the kind of state we want to live in. I prefer a state that does everything possible to help the weakest amongst us. I would support tax credits if they actually produced jobs and helped people. I will fight like heck to eliminate those that come at the expense of our seniors, our children, those with disabilities. My voice will be raised for those without a voice on this issue.

Thank you. For more information contact me at Feel free to send a copy of any correspondence you send or comments you post or letters to the editor you write.