IGNACIO – The Ignacio Town Board voted Monday to support Proposition DD on the November ballot but stalled on supporting Proposition CC.
Voters are set to vote Nov. 5 on two funding measures supporting water, education and transportation projects. Proposition DD legalizes sports betting and taxes casinos’ net sports betting proceeds. It’s on the ballot, as required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, because it adds a 10% tax on casinos licensed by the state. Proposition CC is complicated, but essentially, the state is asking to keep TABOR tax refunds and use the money for education and transportation.
“Proposition CC is essentially the state’s de-Brucing measure,” said Mark Garcia, interim town manager, referring to Douglas Bruce, known as the father of TABOR.
For Proposition CC, a Yes vote means the state can keep all of the money it collects over its revenue limit to spend equally on public schools, higher education and transportation. A No vote means any money the state collects over its revenue limit must be returned to taxpayers.
While Proposition CC eliminates future state TABOR refunds, it does not affect refunds for overpayment of income taxes. Legislative economists estimate that Colorado could collect $310 million above the limit during the 2019-20 budget year. They estimate the TABOR refunds are between $26 and $90 per taxpayer per year, depending on the taxpayer’s income.
Proponents argue that education and transportation need the funding – Colorado ranks in the top third of states in household income, and in the bottom third in per-pupil public spending for K-12 and higher education.
Opponents argue it is essentially a tax increase, and the proposition erodes taxpayer protections. They say the measure’s language is broad and does not guarantee the funds will be spent according to voter intentions under future legislatures.
The Ignacio board briefly considered a resolution draft that would support Proposition CC, but several trustees expressed hesitancy.
For example, Trustees Sharon Craig said she’s all for funding schools and roads, but said, “I don’t like the way it’s written.” Trustee Alison deKay wanted more clarity about how the funds would be disbursed.
“So, would you support it?” deKay asked Garcia during the meeting. Garcia said he did support the measure.
The board tabled the vote on the resolution until the next meeting, which is after the Nov. 5 elections.
Sports, the new marijuanaProposition DD is Colorado’s latest attempt to legalize a “sin” and tax it for public benefit. In Ignacio, the board’s decision to endorse the measure was swift. Trustees unanimously voted in favor of a resolution supporting the sports betting proposition.
“I think primarily that the water plan is the one that is most significant for us,” Garcia said at the meeting, adding that it may include funding sources for the town.
A Yes vote on Proposition DD means sports betting will be legal and taxed in Colorado. A No vote means sports betting will remain illegal in the state.
Under DD, Colorado could collect up to $29 million per year in sports betting tax revenues. Over the first five years, that amount is likely to be much lower as the market develops – closer to $16 million per year.
Those tax revenues and fees would be divided among several uses. Each year, gambling addiction services would get $130,000 maximum and a hold-harmless fund would receive 6% of the revenues, eventually $1.7 million maximum.
After those expenses, the rest of the tax and fee revenue would be used for water projects and water-related obligations, eventually $27.2 million maximum per year.
The Colorado Water Plan, released in 2015 under former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s leadership, sets benchmarks to help the state address future water needs. The plan covers water storage and supply, conservation and land use, engagement and innovation activities, agriculture, environment and recreation.
The sports betting tax would fund projects based on how much money is available and the state’s needs at the time. It can also fund Colorado Water Plan projects, interstate water compacts – or sharing agreements between the seven states in the Colorado River Basin – and water obligations outlined in federal law.
Sports betting on the reservationIf the proposition is successful, it is likely the Southern Ute Indian Tribe could open sports betting books at Sky Ute Casino and Resort. State gaming compacts and the National Gaming Commission have detailed language that the entities would need to review.
The Tribal Council makes the final decision about pursuing sports betting for the tribe.
Lindsay Box, spokeswoman with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, said the Tribal Council unanimously agreed to issue a joint statement on Proposition DD and adding a sports book at Sky Ute Casino: “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.”