Bill offers stability to new tourism promotion fund
Garfield County Correspondent
DENVER ” A more secure future would await a new state tourism promotion fund under a bill that won approval in a Colorado Senate committee Tuesday.
The Senate Finance Committee voted 4-3 to approve a measure that would repeal limitations on the transfer of casino revenues for the fund.
Last year, the state legislature voted to boost annual funding for tourism promotion from $5 million to $19 million. However, the bill included the condition that full funding would occur only when the state takes in the maximum revenues allowed under its spending increase cap of 6 percent per year under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR.
Whenever revenues are less than that, casino dollars that otherwise would go to tourism promotion would have to go into the state general fund, at least to the degree needed to make up the difference.
State Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, had fought for last year’s bill for 14 years. A 0.2-percent state sales tax on the tourism industry had been used for marketing efforts but expired in 1992 and wasn’t renewed.
Now, Taylor is a prime sponsor of the bill designed to eliminate the funding restriction, as is state Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park. Taylor’s Senate district includes Garfield County, and White’s House district includes the western part of the county. Both serve on the Colorado Tourism Board.
The bill’s supporters want to provide a more secure long-term source of tourism promotion funding, and say it’s crucial that efforts to market the state be maintained consistently from year to year. They say it’s most important to market the state during fiscal downturns ” the very time that funding for doing so could be threatened under current law.
Taylor said Colorado has been losing $2.5 billion annually by not being able to target the global tourism market in past years.
“That’s what we’re going after, what we have to have,” he said.
He said research shows every dollar invested in tourism promotion brings back about $18 in state and local tax revenues from increased tourism.
Taylor and White’s bill next goes to the full Senate for its consideration. The measure already has been passed by the House.
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