Colorado lawmakers are asking voters to approve two ballot propositions Nov. 5 that will help keep the state budget in the black and help fund water projects.
About 30 people attended a League of Women Voters forum Thursday presented by Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, at the Durango Public Library. The forum examined:
Proposition CC, which would allow the state to keep revenue collected above limits set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The proposition would require the state to spend unrefunded money equally on K-12, higher education and transportation.Proposition DD, which would allow betting on sports contests, with collected revenue largely going to fund water projects envisioned in the Colorado Water Plan through a 10% tax on wagers.Ballots are expected to be mailed Oct. 11.
Proposition CCOn Proposition CC, Hedges said, “Beginning in (fiscal year) 2019-20, it would allow the state to keep all revenue collected in excess of TABOR limits.”
Currently, TABOR limits revenue growth in state government and in other local taxing districts to no more than the rate of inflation and population growth.
Hedges said Proposition CC “would be a fiscally prudent way of addressing state budgetary needs “without building the revenue into the base budget” by keeping the use of the funds to single-year expenditures.
Instead of the money going to recurring expenses such as teachers’ salaries, she said, it would go to one-time purchases such as computers for schools.
The Colorado Legislative Council said the state collected $575 million above the TABOR cap in 2018, which it expects to lead to refunds to taxpayers in 2020.
Proposition DDHedges said because allowing sports betting creates a new tax, the Legislature is required by TABOR to get approval of the voters before it moves forward allowing it in state-licensed casinos.
The proposition applies to 40 gambling licenses issued by the state for casinos in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Hedges was unsure how the proposition would affect the Sky Ute Casino and the Ute Mountain Ute Casino, which are licensed by the federal government under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988.
An email statement from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, provided by communications coordinator Lindsay Box, said: “The Southern Ute Indian Tribe takes no position on the proposed propositions. Any new idea in the gaming industry brings excitement and potential opportunities but also requires considerable due diligence to make sure it makes sense both economically for the Tribe and for the Southern Ute community. No decision has yet been made by the Tribe on sports betting.”
The proposition allows for the state to collect up to $29 million in revenue annually in the tax on sports betting, but Colorado Legislative Council staff estimates the tax will collect an average of about $16 million annually for the first five years.
Money collected by the sports betting tax would be distributed largely to fund the Colorado Water Plan, a policy document sponsored by Durangoan Ellen Roberts when she was in the state Senate. The Water Plan provides a policy framework to guide infrastructure development of water projects.
Initially, 65.9% of the revenue collected by the tax would go to a fund to implement the Water Plan.
Other revenue would go toward administrative costs, gambling-addiction help and a hold-harmless fund to financially assist casinos that lose revenue from other casino gambling games to sports betting.