Colo. marijuana TABOR refund measure on Nov. 3 ballot

by Lisa Cyriacks

Colorado will repeal sales taxes on marijuana September 16—for one day. The impetus is the Taxpayer Bill of Rights also known as TABOR.

When triggered, TABOR requires the tax rate to be cut to zero. State lawmakers agreed to eliminate the sales tax for one day to meet the constitutional obligations and then to restore it. The tax holiday could cost the state about $100,000 in revenue. A bigger revenue loss will be the $3.6 million the state anticipates losing in revenue for a one-day elimination of the 15% excise tax on marijuana sales from cultivators to retailers.

The little-noticed provision is part of a larger bill that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law in June that includes a ballot initiative in November and a permanent tax cut on recreational pot sales in 2017.

The Colorado Marijuana TABOR refund measure is a legislatively referred measure to the ballot. With voter approval, the measure would allow the state government to avoid paying a TABOR refund on revenue from taxes on marijuana that exceeded budget estimations found in the 2013 Colorado Blue Book for Proposition AA.

This amounts to about $58 million. Under the measure, if approved by voters, the funds would be distributed as follows: $40 million going to the public school capital

construction assistance fund, $12 million going to youth programs, marijuana education and prevention programs, law enforcement services, substance abuse programs, poison control services, and the local government retail marijuana impact grant program, and $6 million remaining in the general fund.

If the voters reject the measure, $13.3 million of the revenue would be refunded through a reduction in the marijuana sales tax from 10% to 0.1% on January 1, 2016 until collections reach $13.3 million or until June 30, 2016. The remainder would be divided with $19.7 million refunded to marijuana cultivation facilities; and $25 million refunded through a sales and use tax refund.

Colorado was the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and now it’s passed a marijuana tax relief. Regardless of whether the ballot initiative passes, Colorado did lower the sales tax on marijuana from 10% to 8% beginning July 2017, a move designed to cut into Colorado’s black market.

Petitions to establish universal health coverage under state-run system 

ColoradoCare is currently circulating petitions for a 2016 ballot question, Initiative #20, to establish universal health coverage under a state-run single payer system.

The ballot initiative seeks to establish a constitutional right to health care in Colorado.

The proposed system, which the state would create in 2017 under a provision of the Affordable Care Act called Section 1332, “innovation waivers,” would do away with the state health insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, and private insurance carriers. However, the state would still receive federal assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Under the plan, a tax of varying rates on all income would be collected to raise the $25 billion needed for the single payer. It would be called ColoradoCare, function as a political subdivision of the state governed by a 21-member board of trustees. It is proposed that it would administer the payment system and control the per-capita cost of health care by contracting with medical providers.

ColoradoCare has until October 23, 2015 to collect the required Friday total of 98,492 signatures.

Other potential ballot measures shaping up for the 2016 ballot include: banning concealed carry on campuses, a measure keeping Daylight Savings Time year-around in Colorado, and creation of a public trust for the natural and environmental resources under public ownership.