Guv wants ‘flatter, fairer’ business taxes

Changes would bring no overall increase

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper plans to rewrite the tax system for businesses to make Colorado more competitive with other states, he said Friday.

The changes he has in mind would not increase or cut taxes overall, but they would make taxes “flatter and fairer” for businesses.

It will take eight to 12 months to draft the changes, Hickenlooper said, which will require approval by the Legislature next year and perhaps by voters.

Hickenlooper met Friday morning with executives from 10 of the state’s largest companies, and they talked about adopting a more competitive tax code.

“We don’t have a tax system that allows us to compete better with Georgia or Texas that have a flatter or fairer tax system,” he said.

He offered few other details about his plan Friday afternoon, when he held the last of his “bottom-up” regional economic development meetings at the University of Denver.

His tour took him on a 1,014-mile trip around the state to meetings that included about 1,000 people. His tour visited Durango on Jan. 15, four days after his inauguration.

The goal is to get all 64 counties to write an economic plan and combine those into 14 regional plans and eventually one state plan.

The regional plans should be done by the middle of May, he said.

The content of the plans is open-ended and up to people in the counties.

“What do we want our economy to look like in 20 years or 40 years, and what will it take to get there?” he asked.

The plans will guide Hickenlooper’s future actions on promoting the economy. He’s not sure yet what concrete steps he will take because the plans are not finished.

“Any business owner can tell you, you don’t go out and start spending your money until you have a plan,” Hickenlooper said.

jhanel@durango herald.com