Marijuana tax revenue hinges on statewide proposition | SummitDaily.com

Marijuana tax revenue hinges on statewide proposition

Greg Ellison
gellison@summitdaily.com
Voting hand
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

HOW DO I VOTE?

In Person – Early

When: Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Old Summit County Courthouse (208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge)

In Person – Election Day

When: Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Old Summit County Courthouse (208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge), Frisco County Commons (37 Peak One Dr., Frisco) or Silverthorne Pavilion (400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne)

More info: Voters in line by 7 p.m. are allowed to vote no matter how long it takes. Ballots can also be dropped off at these locations on Election Day.

Drop Off Ballot

When: Oct. 26 to Nov. 2, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 a.m. to noon; Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Old Summit County Courthouse (208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge), Dillon Town Hall (275 Lake Dillon Dr.), Frisco Town Hall (1 Main St.), Silverthorne Town Hall (601 Center Circle)

More info: Since Oct. 12, voters also can drop off ballots at the old county courthouse during the above times.

Mail In Ballot

All voters registered in Summit County now should have received a ballot by mail. If you did not, call the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office at (970) 453-3479. Mailed-in ballots must be received by the clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Need to register or change your address?

Visit the county clerk’s office (208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge) or visit govotecolorado.com. You can register or change your address on or before Election Day, but the last day ballots will be mailed out is Oct. 27; after that, visit the clerk’s office.

Among the decisions Colorado voters will make on Nov. 3 is how to allocate $66 million collected from retail marijuana taxes. If voters approve Proposition BB — the Colorado Marijuana TABOR Refund Measure — the state retains the funds, and, if rejected, the revenue will be refunded to the marijuana industry and taxpayers.

Before you start deciding how to spend your potential marijuana tax refund, the state estimates each taxpayer would receive about $8.

Under Article X of Colorado’s constitution — generally referred to as TABOR — voters must ratify any new taxes.

In 2013, voters approved Proposition AA to establish excise and sales tax on retail marijuana. Proposition AA was required as a result of Amendment 64, which legalized the sale and consumption of retail cannabis to adults 21 years-of-age and older.

TABOR requires the state to estimate both the amount of revenue it would collect from the marijuana tax and total revenue. Proposition AA authorized increasing state taxes by $70 million annually and estimated overall state revenue at $12.08 billion, with an estimated $67 million added to state revenue from retail marijuana excise and sales tax.

Although actual revenue for retail marijuana in fiscal year 2014-15 was about a million below estimates, total state revenues came in higher than anticipated. Estimated at $12.08 billion, the actual state revenue was $12.35 billion, or $270 million above calculations.

Thus, in the fiscal year 2014-15, if either estimate is exceeded, the state is required to refund the total $66 million retail marijuana tax collected.

So if voters approve Proposition BB, what will the retail marijuana tax dollars fund?

The majority of funding, $40 million, would be transferred by the state to the public school capital construction assistance fund. A total of $12 million will be divided among the following projects:

• $2.5 million – marijuana education and prevention campaigns

• $2 million – school bullying prevention grant

• $2 million – school drop out prevention grant

• $2 million – youth mentoring services

• $1 million – funding for poison-control centers

• $1 million – local government marijuana impact grants

• $500,000 – substance-abuse screening, intervention, referral

• $500,000 – substance-abuse treatment

• $300,000 – Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs

• $200,000 – roadside impaired-driving training for police

The remaining $6 million would stay in the general fund.

If voters decide they prefer a refund and vote against Proposition BB, here is the breakdown where the money will be distributed:

$25 million will be divided among Colorado residents who filed a 2015 state income tax return. The state estimates this could be as low as $8 per taxpayer. $24 million will be refunded to retail marijuana cultivators, and $17 million will be refunded to retail-marijuana purchasers through a temporary reduction on the retail marijuana sales rate.

Also, if voters do not approve Proposition BB, local governments, which allow retail marijuana sales, will lose approximately $6 million from the state starting in 2016.

Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, who served as campaign co-director for Amendment 64, said the public’s sentiments have been clear.

“Colorado voters want marijuana to be taxed, and they want these funds to be used to benefit programs in Colorado,” he said. “They have voted twice to have funds go towards public school construction.”

State Rep. Millie Hamner said in a recent letter to the editor that a constitutional hiccup with TABOR tax limits would force the state to return the money to marijuana merchants and consumers.

“Proposition BB, which is on the ballots arriving in our mailboxes this week, would allow the people of Colorado to invest marijuana tax revenue for schools and safety, which are the purposes the people intended when they legalized marijuana,” she wrote.


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