Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education, Amendment 68 (2014)

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Amendment 68
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Colorado Constitution
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Gambling
Status:On the ballot
2014 measures
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November 4
Amendment 67
Amendment 68
Proposition 104
Proposition 105
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Local measures
A Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education Amendment is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, if approved, would establish a kindergarten through twelfth grade education fund to provide additional revenue to address local educational needs. The fund would be financed through additional revenues generated by the expansion of limited gaming at horse racetracks in the counties of Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo.[1] The allowed gaming would at least include slot machines, card games, roulette and craps.[2]

If approved, the measure would amend Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section to it.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot language will appear as:[3]

SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $114,500,000 ANNUALLY IN THE FIRST FULL FISCAL YEAR, AND BY SUCH AMOUNTS THAT ARE RAISED THEREAFTER, BY IMPOSING A NEW TAX ON AUTHORIZED HORSE RACETRACKS' ADJUSTED GROSS PROCEEDS FROM LIMITED GAMING TO INCREASE STATEWIDE FUNDING FOR K-12 EDUCATION, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, AMENDING THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION TO PERMIT LIMITED GAMING IN ADDITION TO PRE-EXISTING PARI-MUTUEL WAGERING AT ONE QUALIFIED HORSE RACETRACK IN EACH OF THE COUNTIES OF ARAPAHOE, MESA, AND PUEBLO; AUTHORIZING HOST COMMUNITIES TO IMPOSE IMPACT FEES ON HORSE RACETRACKS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT LIMITED GAMING; ALLOWING ALL RESULTING REVENUE TO BE COLLECTED AND SPENT NOTWITHSTANDING ANY LIMITATIONS PROVIDED BY LAW; AND ALLOCATING THE RESULTING TAX REVENUES TO A FUND TO BE DISTRIBUTED TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND THE CHARTER SCHOOL INSTITUTE FOR K-12 EDUCATION?[4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Colorado Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming Proceeds for K-12 Education Amendment (2014), constitutional text changes

If approved, the measure would amend Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution by adding a new section to it.

Background

See also: Colorado state budget & Public education in Colorado

Direct democracy history

Coloradans have exercised direct democracy on gambling issues 21 times and education 28 times in the state's history prior to Amendment 68.

While the earliest such votes on gambling occurred in the 1940s, the topic became a popular ballot issue starting in the 1970s. The heaviest year for gambling measures thus far in the state was 1992, which saw five measures related to gambling. Four of the measures would have allowed limited gaming in specific regions. While all of those measures were defeated, Referendum C was approved, which allowed for limited gaming in any town, city or county following a local vote on the matter.

Policypedia
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Policy and Elections
Budget policy is a major issue in Colorado. Find out more about Colorado Budget policy.

Racetrack gambling has been specifically addressed in some of Colorado's ballot measures. Voters rejected the legalization of horse and dog racing in 1940, but later approved such gambling in 1948. In 2003, an initiative to allow video lottery at specific horse and greyhound racetracks with some proceeds going towards tourism promotion and open spaces for parks and recreation was defeated with fewer than 20 percent of voters supporting it.

The last ballot measure to address gambling in Colorado prior to Amendment 68 was Referendum P in 2010. It would have transferred the licensing of games of chance from the Department of State to the Department of Revenue, but the measure was defeated.

Gambling & state revenue

Following the 1990 legalization of casinos in Colorado, the state's first casino was opened in 1991. As of 2013, Colorado had 41 operating casinos employing 9,278 people. Gambling revenues in Colorado are subject to a graduated tax with a maximum assessment of 20 percent. This came to a total of approximately $104.26 million from casinos in 2013. Gambling revenue taxes are not currently allocated specifically to kindergarten through high school education. Instead, they are allocated to local communities, historic preservation, community colleges, tourism promotion and the general fund.[5]

Colorado also has a state lottery, which has been operating since 1983. The lottery was made possible by a 1980 ballot measure, Referendum 2, which also required the net proceeds of the lottery to be put in the state's conservation trust fund.[6] In 2013, the lottery contributed $59.2 million to the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), $54.3 million to the Conservation Trust Fund, $13.6 million to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and $8.6 million to the Public School Construction Assistance (BEST Program).[7]

Support

Coloradans for Better Schools logo.jpg

Supporters

Organizations

  • Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc.
  • Mile High USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Twin River Casino[8]

Individuals

  • Vickie Armstrong, primary proponent
  • Bob Hagedorn, second proponent
  • John E. Taylor Jr., chairman of Twin River Casino[9]

Arguments

Vickie Armstrong has argued that the measure would provide new, needed funding for education in the state. Following the announcement of the initiative's signature submission, she said,

We know Coloradans care deeply about education, but there is little appetite for broad tax increases. This initiative will not raise taxes on taxpayers by even one penny.[4]

—Vickie Armstrong, [2]

Coloradans for Better Schools provides the following arguments on their campaign website:

Under the Coloradans for Better Schools Initiative, more than $100 million dollars will be generated each year for Colorado K-12 schools simply by expanding gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack. That amount is roughly equal to the annual sum of all payments made by Colorado’s 35-plus existing casinos. That is because the percentage of revenue from Arapahoe gaming that will go to benefit our schools will be more than double the average percentage existing casinos currently pay to their beneficiaries. [...]

[Expanded] gaming is restricted to no more than three horse racetracks that have had at least five continuous years of horse racing with wagering at the time they apply for an expanded gaming license. Specifically, the initiative permits expanded gaming at no more than one Class B horse racetrack in each of three Colorado counties – Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo. Using these strict qualifying criteria, the measure ensures that gaming does not expand beyond where it already exists. [...]

Racetrack visitation will drive more customers to local businesses and provide a boost for the economy. Wages from newly created jobs will also go to purchasing more goods and services in the community.[4]

—Coloradans for Better Schools, [10]

Campaign contributions

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $2,360,862.30
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $9,143,379.00

The following campaign contribution totals for Coloradans for Better Schools, Inc. are current as of the committee's July 1, 2014, report. Thus far, the campaign has only had one major contributor: Mile High USA, Inc.[11] The company operates Arapahoe Park, a horse and greyhound racetrack in Aurora, Colorado. It is also a subsidiary of Twin River Casino.[12]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc. $2,360,862.30 $1,591,405.41
Total $2,360,862.30 $1,591,405.41

Top contributors:

Donor Amount
Mile High USA, Inc. $2,360,762.30
Katie Kennedy $100.00

Opposition

CO Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos logo.JPG

Opponents

  • Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos

Arguments

A spokesperson for Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, which has been extensively funded by casino operators in the state, provided the following arguments against the measure:

This initiative isn't about public schools. said campaign group spokeswoman . Not a single one of Colorado's 178 school districts have come out in support of this scheme. [...] That's because a plan to build mega-casinos to help one Rhode Island company isn't a plan for our public schools.[4]

—Michele Ames, spokesperson for Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, [13]

The group provides the following further arguments on their campaign website:

The current gaming industry in Colorado has contributed literally billions of dollars to programs and initiatives outlined and approved by Colorado voters. Granting a monopoly on the Front Range to a single casino operator will decimate Colorado’s existing casino industry and the programs it supports, costing Colorado:
  • $20 million annually to the state’s general fund
  • $15 million annually to promote Colorado’s travel and tourism
  • More than $23 million annually to support historic preservation across all 64 Colorado counties
  • Financial support for gaming impacts including support to communities adjacent to casino towns
  • More than $6 million annually to community colleges
  • 9,000 jobs created directly by the gaming industry and an additional 18,500 supported by the industry
  • Support for bioscience research and general higher education research.

Maybe the out-of-state interest supporting this measure should take a look at Colorado voters' priorities before they attempt to buy a place in the state’s constitution.[4]

—Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, [14]

Campaign contributions

The following totals for Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos's campaign contributions are accurate as of their July 1, 2014, report of contributions and expenditures. That includes all funds since the beginning of 2014.[15]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos $9,143,379.00 $7,382,457.87
Total $9,143,379.00 $7,382,457.87

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa Black Hawk $2,822,790.00
Isle Of Capri Casinos, Inc. $2,204,818.00
Jacobs Entertainment $1,813,961.00
Affinity Gaming Black Hawk $1,048,241.00
Monarch Casino & Resort $1,003,569.00

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado & Amending the Colorado Constitution

Supporters were required to gather 86,105 valid signatures by Monday, August 4 at 3:00 PM for the measure to appear on the ballot. Proponents announced they had submitted 136,342 signatures to the secretary of state's office on July 15, 2014.[13] On July 28, the measure was certified and titled Amendment 68.[16]

Related measures

See also

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External links

Support

Opposition

Additional reading

References

  1. Legislative Council Staff and Office of Legislative Legal Services, "Memo to Vickie Armstrong and Bob Hagedorn: Proposed initiative measure 2013-2014 #135, concerning Proceeds from Video Lottery Terminals for K-12 Education," April 2, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Denver Post, "State verifying signatures for gaming measure to fund schools," July 14, 2014
  3. Colorado Secretary of State, "Results for Proposed Initiative #135 Ballot Title Setting Board 2013-2014," accessed May 23, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. American Gaming Association, "State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment," 2013
  6. Colorado Lottery, "About Us," accessed July 29, 2014
  7. Colorado Lottery, "FY13 Annual Report," 2013
  8. The Denver Post: The Balance Sheet, "Colorado casino battle ramping up with racetrack group raising $1.1 million," May 6, 2014
  9. Providence Journal, "Twin River Casino owner pushing Colorado voter initiative to expand gambling," July 10, 2014
  10. Coloradans for Better Schools, "Key Facts about the Coloradans for Better Schools Initiative," accessed July 15, 2014
  11. TRACER, "Committee Detail: Coloradans For Better Schools, Inc.," accessed July 15, 2014
  12. Mile High Racing & Entertainment, "About MHRE," accessed July 15, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Denver Post, "Backers of casino-style gaming at Colorado racetracks submit petitions," July 14, 2014
  14. Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos, "What's at stake?," accessed July 15, 2014
  15. TRACER, "Committee Detail: Don't Turn Racetracks into Casinos," accessed July 15, 2014
  16. Denver Westword, "Initiative 135 wins the gamble and makes the ballot as Amendment 68," July 29, 2014