The proposed Colorado Poll Initiative would enhance marijuana gross sales tax by 5 p.c for training

^

I support

  • Local
  • Community
  • journalism

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

An election initiative proposed by a group of state lawmakers and public education support groups calls for a new $ 150 million learning enrichment program that provides tutoring and after-school education services to Colorado children.

Proponents of the proposed Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) program would like low- and middle-income parents of school-age children in Colorado to receive an annual grant of approximately $ 1,500 per child for extracurricular learning services, including extracurricular achievement. School programs, one-to-one tuition, and specialized extra-curricular learning classes.

The program would be funded through an increase in marijuana sales tax as well as the repurposing of some of the investment proceeds from leases, rents and royalties for state-owned land. Diverted revenue from state-owned properties is estimated at around $ 60 million, and the remaining funds – estimated to be around $ 90 million – would come from a 5 percent tax increase on marijuana sales, according to Mike Johnston, former gubernatorial candidate and current candidate In his spare time he is CEO of Gary Community Investments, a nonprofit that works for low-income children.

As currently written, the benefits of the LEAP program would be prioritized for families earning between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000 per year. While the money would be available year round, Johnston would like to have a heavy focus on summer education, which he believes is “a big part of the achievement gap” among Colorado children.

“One of the things that we focused on before COVID was the summer slide. When it comes to extra-curricular experiences or summer opportunities, low-income children drop dramatically,” he explains. “Upper- and middle-class families enrich their children’s lives in waves that evolve them.”

Institutions like the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA already have skilled services, and public school teachers could make extra money by tutoring after school.

Mike Johnston

Mike Johnston

garycommunity.org

According to Johnson, representatives of the marijuana industry were consulted in drawing up the measure. He characterizes the talks as “positive and open,” but admits that a 5 percent increase in recreational marijuana sales tax may not be universally accepted.

“You understand what we are looking for [and] They support the idea that we are trying to realize, “he says of the representatives of the marijuana industry.” But they obviously have a business to run. “

When applied to 2020 sales, a 5 percent increase in the marijuana tax would add just under $ 80 million more, according to the Treasury Department. With pot sales already getting very hot in 2021, it is possible that pot sales could cover $ 90 million of the program.

However, some executives in the marijuana industry fear that their industry has become an open source of funding for projects across the state.

“We’d have to dig deeper into the electoral initiative before we take a position. In general, however, we’re seeing increased efforts to use the cannabis user as a piggy bank for government and local household problems,” said Peter Marcus, spokesman for the Boulder-based pharmacy chain Terrapin Care Station . “It is important that we keep cannabis tax rates that do not strengthen a black market. Cannabis is already taxed at a high rate. At some point we will create a dormant black market if we continue to tax cannabis users to fix them.” local and state budget gaps. State and local leaders should work to fund long-term sustainable solutions to our budget problems, not band-aid fixes on the backs of cannabis users. “

Colorado currently has a 15 percent special tax on recreational marijuana sales. If approved, the electoral initiative would increase this to 20 percent, disregarding local and regional taxes, which together can be 10 percent or more.

Amendment 64, passed by voters in Colorado in 2012, promised that a portion of sales taxes from sales of legal recreational marijuana would go towards education. Approximately 12.6 percent of the state-level marijuana tax revenue currently goes directly to the State Public School Fund. Truman Bradley, director of the Marijuana Industry Group, points out that additional marijuana revenues will fund the government’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund and youth drug abuse prevention programs.

“MIG members undoubtedly support the overall goals of the initiative and applaud proponents for trying to find creative ways to help children at risk,” he says. “Our board of directors has not met since the announcement, so we have no formal position as an association on the type or amount of tax.”

The initiative was submitted to the State Legislative Council this week; It is expected to appear before the State Title Board later this month. If the language is approved by the Title Board, Johnston and his allies – a list that includes the Donnell-Kay Foundation and Senators Rhonda Fields and Bob Gardner – will begin collecting the 124,632 verifiable signatures required to complete the Proposal to receive voting paper in November 2021.

Keep Westword Free … Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we want to keep it that way. We offer our readers free access to concise coverage of local news, food and culture. Produce stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands with bold reporting, stylish writing, and staff everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Feature Writing Award to the Casey Medal for the Deservable Journalism have won. With the existence of local journalism under siege and setbacks having a greater impact on advertising revenue, it is more important than ever for us to raise support for funding our local journalism. You can help by joining our I Support membership program which allows us to continue to cover Denver without paywalls.

Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.

Comments are closed.