By Jack Minor –
An amendment to the Colorado Constitution that lawmakers want repealed could result in individual taxpayers receiving money from the state over taxes on marijuana following its legalization in 2012.
When voters approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational use it was sold on the premise that all of the money raised from tax revenue would be “for the children” and be used for things such as schools or substance abuse for those who are now using the legalized product.
However, it now appears that the sale of marijuana has been a resounding success with residents flying in from other states to purchase the product. There appear to be indications that tax revenues from the sale of marijuana could be higher than projected. On Tuesday, an economic forecast produced by Colorado’s Legislative Council reported that state spending on marijuana is trending higher than previously estimated.
If this turns out to be the case than under a constitutional amendment approved by voters known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, the higher spending could trigger provisions in the amendment that require a refund on any new sources of revenue such as what is coming from marijuana taxes.
The possibility of taxpayers getting a refund rather than allowing the government to spend the excess revenue immediately earned the ire of Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who is the vice-chair of the Joint Budget Committee which hosted the briefing announced it would be “disappointing” if the state had to return money to taxpayers.
“The idea of having to issue a refund or going back to the voters hat in hand is disappointing,” Steadman said.
Steadman also raised the ire of a large body of the state’s residents when he said that if a person was a Christian there was no place for them in society for them.
The incendiary comments came during a debate during a civil union bill which was pushed through by a Democrat majority last year. During debate on the bill Steadman, who is an open homosexual responded to concerns that the law could force Christians to participate and support civil unions regardless of whether they held to the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman or not.
“What to say to those who claim that religion requires them to discriminate? I tell you what I’d say: ‘Get thee to a nunnery, and live there then. Go live a monastic life, away from modern society, away from people you can’t see as equals to yourself,’” Steadman said.
Under TABOR, any excess revenue the state collects beyond an amount set forward in a budgeting formula based on prior years revenue must be refunded to taxpayers rather than allowing lawmakers to spend the excess monies unless they specifically ask taxpayers to approve of them spending the extra money in off year elections.
Under TABOR the state could be required to refund some of the $54 million raised from pot revenue to each of the state’s taxpayers.