When voters see their ballots for this fall’s election, which are due to be mailed Friday, they will encounter two propositions, labeled CC and DD, which make changes to state law.
CC would let the state keep all the revenue it collects over a tax cap, in perpetuity.
DD legalizes and taxes sports betting.
We have heard a fair amount about CC from its proponents, who tend to be Democrats, some of whom referred it to the ballot from the Colorado Legislature; and members of boards and heads of institutions, who hope to get some of the proceeds to fund their projects.
The opposition has been more muted. It would be easiest to start with it.
CC is effectively a tax increase. If you pay more than you should in taxes and the state keeps the overage, your taxes went up even if the rate did not. We wish some CC proponents would stop saying this is not so, because such transparent chicanery – Red is blue! Day is night! – is what leaves voters who might be favorably disposed to a modest tax increase feeling uneasy.
Most taxpayers will not miss it much, while proponents say it could raise an additional several hundred millions of dollars a year in some years, to be used for education and transportation. Note, though, that this is not a sustainable source of funding, so it cannot go, say, to teachers’ pay.
What guarantee do you have that it will be used appropriately?
Ultimately, it is the same one you have that the Legislature will responsibly spend the state’s general revenue: None – but your vote. If you do not trust legislators to exercise fiscal restraint, you must elect different representatives. This is a bitter pill for people in the minority on any question, we realize. It often means compromise. CC is such a compromise.
Proponents say a Yes vote would “help attract and retain the best teachers for our K12 schools; fix potholes, reduce traffic congestion and repair unsafe bridges; and make community colleges more accessible and affordable.” (The teachers would be attracted by making the schools more desirable.) This is not such a bad transaction. We spend more for less all the time.
Critics say all these things should be funded within the parameters of the regular budget, forcing more trade-offs or greater austerity. Yes, they should. In theory. But spending is not runaway now, and to withhold this for abstract reasons or from principle risks being miserly. A No vote will not change the Legislature.
To the extent this new revenue is dedicated to infrastructure and repair – and possibly, help with Fort Lewis College’s planned $25 million expansion of its Whalen gym and health sciences program – it is a sound investment that should grow in value over time.
Proposition DDProposition DD follows on a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows states to legalize sports betting.
We are not concerned with vice or the morality of sports betting, just as we do not worry about lotteries. People do more harmful and allowable things, and we believe they will wager on sports whether or not the state allows, regulates and taxes it.
If there is new business, all the better for state tax revenue. (However, if gambling addiction is a problem for you or your loved ones, the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado has a help line at 800-522-4700.) Some of the proceeds from taxing Colorado sports betting will go to fund the state’s Water Plan, which is another pro argument.
We vote Yes on propositions CC and DD.