Conservative think tank opposes tax refund, sports betting ballot measures

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Published Saturday, October 12, 2019

By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

The Centennial Institute, a conservative think tank in Lakewood, Colo., said it strongly opposes both tax-related measures that Colorado voters will decide on in November.  

The think tank, part of Colorado Christian University, says it's opposing Propositions CC and DD because they aren't fiscally responsible and don't help families in the state. The state constitution's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires voter approval for all tax increases. 

"Colorado is more free, families are stronger, and our state budget is healthier if both Proposition CC and Proposition DD are rejected," Centennial Institute Director Jeff Hunt said. 

When state government collects revenue above its spending cap, TABOR requires that money to be refunded back to taxpayers. Proposition CC asks voters to allow state government to permanently keep the occasional tax refunds.

The measure would split those excess funds evenly between K-12 education, higher education and transportation funding. An analysis of the measure in a ballot guide estimates that if passed, state government would collect $310 million above the cap in fiscal year 2021 and $342 million in fiscal 2022. 

The think tank said Proposition CC would grow government in the state by eliminating the spending constraint. 

"Colorado's government does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem," the institute said. "In fact, the state of Colorado's budget grows by $1 billion every year. Every family in Colorado lives within a budget, so should the state of Colorado." 

Proponents of Proposition CC, which was referred to the ballot by the Democratic-led legislature, say the cap hamstrings government's ability to invest in education and transportation. They also maintain the measure increases funding by not raising taxes. 

The Centennial Institute also opposes Proposition DD, which asks voters to legalize sports betting and allow the state to tax the industry. 

"Gambling is sinful, it disproportionately harms the poor, is rooted in the sin of greed, and it leads to the breakdown of the family," the institute said. "Further, legalizing sports gambling damages the foundation of athletic competition and invites corruption."

Proposition DD, which has far broader bipartisan support than Proposition CC, proposes a 10 percent tax on casino betting proceeds, which would go toward funding water projects in the state. 

The coalition backing the measure, called Yes on DD, says passing it is critical to protecting water resources, especially given the state's rapidly increasing population. 

"Colorado's population is expected to double by 2060, and at current usage rates Colorado's water supply will not keep up with Colorado's population into the future," the group says on its website. "With these pressures mounting, it is critical that we conserve and protect our water resources to ensure that there is enough water for everyone."

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