Twenty-five billion dollars in new taxes. Businesses leaving Colorado. Lost jobs.
Say hello to Amendment 69, an upcoming ballot measure that would create a new state-run health care system called ColoradoCare. The program aims to scrap private health insurance plans and provide universal health care through the government.
But like any feel-good government program, ColoradoCare wouldn’t pay for itself. If approved in November, Amendment 69 would impose a $25 billion tax burden on employers and employees, including an additional 6.67 percent payroll tax borne by Colorado small businesses. This would nearly double the size of the $27 billion state budget.
And ColoradoCare’s heavy tax burden could force small businesses — 97.6 percent of all Colorado businesses — and the tens of thousands of jobs they create out of the state. As a result, it faces bipartisan opposition from both sides of the aisle, including the Democratic governor.
The proposal is just one of many attacks on small businesses that form the backbone of Colorado’s economy.
Colorado voters also will decide on whether to dramatically raise the state’s minimum wage, which low-margin businesses would have to absorb by reducing career opportunities for young and less-skilled state residents. Recent estimates show that a higher wage mandate could result in 90,000 fewer jobs over the next six years.
As the owner of the Henderson Insurance Agency in Centennial, I know the impact of bad government policy firsthand. Taking advantage of Colorado’s pro-business climate — consistently ranked among the country’s best — I founded Henderson Insurance in 1982 and have seen it provide advice to thousands of Colorado businesses and families.
But that growth was only possible because of the state’s business-friendly environment, where low taxes and fewer regulations have helped up-and-coming breweries, tech startups and other small businesses expand and invest. Because I spent less time filing government paperwork, I was able to devote more time to business development — finding avenues to hire new employees and even open up another office.
New proposals like ColoradoCare and a higher entry-level wage threaten that entrepreneurial spirit, inundating job creators with more compliance costs instead of encouraging them to succeed.
The threat is only compounded by the federal government’s own overreach. One recent study found that the total cost of federal regulations is $4 trillion. If America’s regulatory burden was a country, it would boast the fourth-largest gross domestic product in the world — surpassing the economies of Germany and India. In 2015, the Federal Register — which chronicles all federal rules, notices and proposed mandates — surpassed 81,600 pages, setting an all-time record.
Whether government gets in the way at the federal or state level, the end result is the same: Small businesses suffer.
According to a recent Job Creators Network poll of over 400 small businesses, three in five small business owners claim that government red tape threatens the viability of their business. Two in three business owners say the same about high taxes.
For that reason, only one in five small business owners plan to hire new employees in the next year. Fewer than one-third of them believe that doing business this year will be easier than the previous one.
As the government grows larger, Colorado is the perfect venue to celebrate small businesses — the state’s most important job creators.
Curt Henderson is the founder and president of the Henderson Insurance Agency and a member of the Job Creators Network.