In an era of money-hungry government, this election cycle seeks to move us further down a path asking taxpayers to give more, fund more, pay more.
Water has long been at the forefront of my agenda over the duration of my career in the state legislature. I have served as the Water Committee Chairman several times and have become one of those “water guys” from whom others seek information.
I have remained publicly neutral on Proposition DD as several questions were not answered. Instead, I proposed policy changes to require transparency. Those questions remain unclear and any transparency policy has so far been rejected.
This proposition asks permission to add sports betting to Colorado’s current list of approved games, in response to the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that individual states can authorize betting on sports. I know people who already bet using their smartphones.
Voters are asked to approve that list and then allow a tax on sports betting with the revenue going to the “Water Plan.”
On the surface this seems great: we need to make sure we have funding available to build storage and keep Colorado’s water in Colorado. Except, just like Prop CC, the legislature can raid funds set aside for water and use them for something else. And they have in the past — since 2002, $322 million specified for water projects has been spent elsewhere.
If Prop CC fails and Prop DD passes, will the legislature take the money they had hoped would be generated by Prop CC to fund the ongoing government overspending? The law says they can!
Let’s assume that we can trust the legislature to spend this money on the “Water Plan.” Will that money be used to build storage? Or will it fund other projects such as removing water from agriculture for recreation or instream flows or urban growth? A past director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board has been quoted saying that some rivers need to be 100% owned by the state to meet the agency’s conservation goals. That scares me, and it should scare agriculture.
Most recently, as I try to decide if this is a good policy for Colorado, I can’t help but focus on the questions that are not being answered. It would appear that there are some hidden agendas involved.
To me, it boils down to this: should gamblers be made to fund our water needs? Should we raise taxes on something like gambling to replace a noticeable reduction in water funds used because of the curtailed oil and gas production? Can we trust the legislature to spend this money on what it is promised for?
I can’t answer yes to any of those questions.