Scott Bill Will Direct More Pot Tax Revenue Toward Schools
DENVER – Part of what may have sold pot legalization to many voters was a promise that a sizable share of any resulting pot tax revenue would go toward capital improvements in Colorado schools. But because the share of pot revenues going toward schools has remained the same, while state pot tax collections have continued to soar, Senator Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) has co-authored a bill lifting the original $40 million cap on school construction funding.
“I think today’s vote could best me summed up as promises made, promises kept,” Scott said Wednesday, after House Bill-1070 won unanimous bipartisan support from the Senate Education Committee. “Voters who supported marijuana legalizations were told that a meaningful chunk of that money would go toward building or rebuilding public schools, but the original pot of money set aside for that work has been shrinking, relative to the pot of revenue we’re collecting, so we thought some upward adjustments were required, in order to comply with the clear intent of voters.”
The formulas dictating distribution of marijuana tax revenues are complex, but Scott and other supporters of HB-1070 say this is the bottom line: the old sums set aside for school construction – the first $40 million of excise taxes collected annually — no longer are adequate, relative to how much the state is collecting. The bill therefore raises the annual cap on Building Excellent Schools Today Act expenditures from $40 million to $100 million, greatly increasing the sums available to schools.
“Maybe we were a little conservative in the sums we originally set aside for school construction grants, because we just weren’t sure what that revenue picture would look like over time,” Scott explained. “But today we have a better understanding of what we’re bringing, so we can feel comfortable lifting the old cap and directing more of those dollars where voters wanted them spent.”
HB-1070 next moves to the Senate floor for debate.