DENVER - A tax business owners despise would begin dying slowly under a bill that won initial approval in the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 85 repeals the business personal property tax. But it doesn't begin the rollback until 2011, and it takes 40 years to phase it out completely.
The bill passed on a voice vote and needs to survive another recorded vote in the Senate before it goes to the House.
"It's got to be - universally - the most hated tax," said Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Colorado Springs.
Scheffel is sponsoring SB 85 with Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora.
Businesses pay the tax on equipment they own.
Advocates of repealing the tax say it makes Colorado a less attractive place to start a business.
But Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, pointed out that 40 states have a similar tax.
Democrats and Republicans cooperated last year to raise the exemption on the tax from $2,500 to $7,000 by 2013.
But this year, opponents said the state can't afford to cut more taxes, even at such a slow rate.
"I cannot imagine a worse time to do this," said Democratic Sen. Morgan Carroll, also from Aurora.
The first year of the gradual repeal, the state would have to make up $2.2 million in lost funding for schools.
By Year 40, the state would be short $368 million, according to an analysis by the Legislature.
Repealing the tax would mean local governments have less money, as well.