Colorado GOCO Bonds for Open Space Act, Referendum A (2001)
The ballot question was, "Shall the state board of the great outdoors Colorado trust fund debt be increased $115,000,000, with a maximum repayment cost of $180,000,000, with no increase in any taxes, for the purpose of enhancing the great outdoors Colorado trust fund's ability to address urgent and permanent land acquisition priorities, including the acquisition of perpetual conservation easements, in order to protect the state's wildlife, park, river, trail, and open space heritage through the issuance of bonds, and shall earnings on the proceeds of such bonds constitute a voter-approved revenue change?"
What is GOCO? The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) program was created in 1992 to distribute a portion of the proceeds from the Colorado Lottery in substantially equal shares to four categories: wildlife, outdoor recreation, open space, and related local government projects. GOCO awards grants to cities and towns, park and recreation districts, nonprofit land conservation organizations, the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Some GOCO grants are used to buy land, although GOCO cannot acquire land in its own name. GOCO is governed by a 15-member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate.
Under the Colorado Constitution, GOCO receives 50 percent of the state's net lottery proceeds, up to a cap that is adjusted for inflation each year. Last year, GOCO's share of the lottery proceeds was $39.5 million. Through June 2001, GOCO awarded $265.9 million in grants for 1,678 projects across the state.
What does this ballot proposal allow?
The proposal allows GOCO to borrow up to $115 million to help acquire land. The total repayment cost on the borrowed money (both principal and interest) cannot exceed $180 million. Any borrowed money must be repaid within 20 years from GOCO's future lottery revenues.
GOCO may borrow money only for permanent land acquisitions that the board determines are urgent. The borrowed money may be used to finance the purchase of both land and perpetual conservation easements, which permanently restrict how a parcel of land is used. GOCO decides whether and when to borrow money, the interest rate and length of borrowing, and which parcels of land to buy with borrowed money.
How does borrowing affect the amount of land that can be purchased? The relationship between the rate of change in land prices and the cost of borrowing determines how much land can be purchased under this proposal. If land prices increase at a faster rate than the interest rate on the borrowed money, borrowing allows GOCO to finance the purchase of more land. If the value of land that is acquired under this proposal declines or increases at a slower rate than the interest rate paid on the bonds, borrowing reduces the amount of land that can be purchased.
The proposal authorizes GOCO to issue up to $115 million in debt, with a maximum repayment cost, including interest, of $180 million. The term of any debt is limited to 20 years. The proposal does not increase state or local taxes, nor does it affect the amount of taxpayer refunds from either the state or local governments.
- Details of Referendum A
- Referendum A Fiscal Impact Statement
- Blue Book on Referendum A
- Secretary of State's 2001 Ballot Measure Information
- Website of Great Outdoors Colorado
- Website of Colorado Lottery