FILE - Denver, Colorado Skyline

The skyline is backlighted as the sun sets late Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Denver.  

(The Center Square) – Colorado businesses are opposed to lawmakers increasing taxes during the upcoming legislative session, according to a new survey on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the state's businesses.

The survey, conducted by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, found 87% of respondents want lawmakers to avoid "increases in taxes on businesses." 

Of the survey's respondents, 80% of businesses said they want lawmakers to implement COVID-19 liability protections, and 56% want exceptions in public health orders to allow businesses to stay open if they meet or exceed guidelines.

“The economic fallout from COVID-19 can be felt among businesses of all sizes throughout the state,” Chuck Berry, president of the Colorado Chamber, said in a statement.

“But the business community in Colorado is resilient and forward-thinking, and right now, they’re focused on leading our state to an economic recovery. As we look ahead to 2021, the biggest request we have for lawmakers is to allow employers and their employees to get to work without burdensome new tax increases or regulations. Businesses have already endured one of the worst economies in decades and we can’t afford additional barriers to recovery,” he added.

Over one-third of respondents said they have felt a slight or moderate negative impact with 11% saying the impact has been “severely negative.” Similarly, 65% of small businesses reported being negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Numerous respondents also had to make workforce adjustments like reducing staff, increasing layoffs, and reducing staff salaries to make ends meet. Meanwhile, 53% of businesses expect the economic fallout from the pandemic to continue into 2021.

For their part, Colorado lawmakers passed a nearly $300 million relief package providing pandemic relief for property owners, renters, and businesses. Lawmakers appropriated $45 million to help childcare centers expand and $57 million to support small businesses.

However, 75% of small business respondents in the survey said they do not qualify for the relief measures already in place.

Legislators failed to pass a bill that would allow small businesses to stay open under restrictive public health orders.

Instead, Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released its 5-star program guidance on Tuesday to help businesses, cities, and counties prepare their applications to the agency for variances.

The survey of the Chamber's members was conducted between December 7 and December 11, with 60 businesses of varying sizes responding, representing 16 industries in Colorado.

Colorado’s 2021 legislative session begins on January 13, 2021.