Colorado voters have the opportunity to invest $40 million in public school construction without raising taxes by instead putting previously approved taxes to their intended use. It may sound confusing, but it adds up to a big win for kids and schools.
The Colorado Constitution protects taxpayers when new taxes are created. New taxes must receive voter approval and voters must be advised about their price tag and given other economic forecasts. Unfortunately for the new marijuana taxes approved in 2013, the “Blue Book” that was mailed to voters contained an inaccurate economic forecast, and because of that all of these new taxes collected during the first full year of implementation must be refunded.
Our constitution gives voters the power to waive the refund requirement and allow the revenue to be kept and spent. That’s why Proposition BB is on the ballot this November. If voters approve then no refund will occur. Instead, the new tax revenue will be kept and spent as voters intended.
Kids and schools are the biggest beneficiaries of Proposition BB. When voters say YES to Prop BB there will be a $40 million cash infusion for the BEST fund, a public school construction program known as “Building Excellent Schools Today.” A board of experts in school facilities reviews applications and awards grants to needy school districts across Colorado. In some cases BEST has built new schools, but more often the grants repair roofs, replace boilers and heaters and neglected but essential maintenance projects.
With Proposition BB the legislature has also allocated $12 million in money that would otherwise be refunded towards programs designed to address marijuana legalization. More than half of this amount targets at-risk youth with education and prevention programs to help them be safe and stay in school. The Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center will get an upgrade and additional resources for substance use screening and treatment will be made available.
I’m encouraging Colorado voters to say YES to Proposition BB. Should the measure fail the new taxes voters just approved will be refunded to the marijuana industry and taxpayers. I don’t think this is what voters had in mind when they said legalize it and tax it. The new tax revenues should be put to good use, including the $40 million for school construction that has twice appeared on the ballot but hasn’t happened yet. Proposition makes it happen, as voters intended. Please vote YES.