This is disingenuous at best, but I would call it an outright lie. Marijuana taxes are less than the expected TABOR refunds. All the money goes into the general fund, where one dollar is indistinguishable from the next. It is more honest to say that thanks to marijuana taxes and an improving economy, the government coffers are overflowing and they will return money to the taxpayers. Not according to Pat Steadman. Read on:
“SHOULD 1st YEAR TAXES FROM PROP AA BE RETAINED?
If you’ve been keeping score, voters have twice voted to tax and regulate marijuana in Colorado. In 2012 we passed Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana and instructed the legislature to create laws for taxation and regulation. In 2013 the legislature referred Proposition AA to the ballot, proposing a tax scheme that voters overwhelmingly adopted.
But it doesn’t stop there – I’m working on a bill for 2015 that would ask voters to allow the tax revenues generated by Prop AA during its first full-year of implementation to be retained and spent. Yes, thanks to a peculiar provision of the TABOR Amendment, you’ll have to vote a third time to make the pot taxes work as intended.
TABOR is full of surprises. It subjects newly approved taxes to two separate limitations. One limit enforces the requirement for ballot language to specify the amount the tax will generate in its first year. This creates a disincentive for those that would put a “low-ball” dollar figure on the ballot to lessen opposition. This makes sense.
But the hidden TABOR problem for Prop AA is the second limit applicable only during the first year of a new tax. TABOR requires total state fiscal year spending before and after the new tax to be included in the “Blue Book” publication, and it holds us to these projected amounts. In essence, TABOR converts a projection into a limit in years when new taxes are first implemented. And unfortunately for us, our growing economy has us exceeding this limit. This makes no sense.
To be clear: we’re not collecting more in Prop AA taxes than projected. In fact, the marijuana tax revenues are coming in quite a bit below what was anticipated. The TABOR problem is that the general fund is growing faster than was indicated in the Blue Book. It has nothing to do with Prop AA – only that we exceeded a projection in Prop AA’s first year. And the consequence for exceeding the limit is to refund all of the new tax collected during the first full year, currently projected to be $30.5 million.
That’s crazy. That’s contrary to the clear intent of voters that marijuana be legal, regulated and taxed. And it misses the opportunity to turn legal marijuana sales into tax revenues that are put to good use, addressing concerns about marijuana sales and ensuring adequate resources for law enforcement.
That’s why I’m writing a bill to ask voters to make their wishes known a third time. We’ll place a question on the ballot and let voters decide. The legislation would include a clear plan for how the money would be spent if voters allow it to be retained, and a refund mechanism in the event they decide to vote NO. There appears to be interest in the concept, but we’ll need to negotiate the details. Stay tuned!
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