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  • Writer's pictureZachary Epps

State Lawmakers Anxious about $8 million from Prop 123 money

Colorado Prop 123 is a ballot initiative that was put forth by the Colorado government in 2021. The initiative seeks to amend the state's constitution to allow the government to retain and spend all revenues generated from the taxation of sports betting activities in the state. The proposed amendment is expected to generate significant revenue for the state's education sector, which has been facing budget shortfalls for several years.

Under the current law in Colorado, sports betting was legalized in 2019, and the state has been collecting taxes from the activity since then. However, a provision in the state constitution known as the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires that any new tax revenue generated by the state must be returned to taxpayers unless voters approve an exemption.

Prop 123 aims to create such an exemption, allowing the government to keep the tax revenue generated by sports betting and use it to fund education in the state.

Proponents of Prop 123 argue that the amendment is a crucial step in addressing the state's education funding crisis. According to the Colorado Department of Education, the state's K-12 schools are currently facing a budget shortfall of approximately $572 million. This has resulted in overcrowded classrooms, underpaid teachers, and inadequate resources for students.

Supporters of the initiative also point out that sports betting has become a significant source of revenue for the state, with over $3 billion in bets placed since it was legalized. By allowing the government to keep the tax revenue generated by sports betting, they argue that Prop 123 would provide a stable and consistent source of funding for education, rather than relying on unpredictable and volatile funding sources like state budget appropriations.

Opponents of Prop 123, however, argue that the initiative would undermine TABOR's mandate to keep taxes low and government spending in check. They claim that the amendment would create a precedent for future tax exemptions, leading to increased government spending and higher taxes in the long run. They also argue that Prop 123 would effectively give the government a blank check to spend sports betting revenues on any education-related expenses, without proper oversight or accountability.

Despite the controversy surrounding Prop 123, polls suggest that the initiative has strong support among Colorado voters. If passed, it could provide much-needed funding for the state's education system and serve as a model for other states seeking to address education funding shortfalls. However, it remains to be seen whether Prop 123 will ultimately be approved by Colorado voters and how it will impact the state's budget and education system in the long run.

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