This November, Colorado’s Water Plan, turns four years old! Since its completion in 2015, the Water Plan has been an essential roadmap for managing water resources – including our rivers, lake and streams – and establishing a sustainable path towards water security. The Water Plan has been essential with prioritizing the value of clean drinking water, promoting action around water conservation in cities, preserving Colorado’s agricultural heritage, improving vital river and watershed protection, and supporting flexible water policies across the state.
But to fully implement Colorado’s Water Plan, additional funding is needed to drive the priorities outlined in the Plan. Earlier this year, the Colorado legislature recognized the importance of investing in our rivers and streams when they passed House Bill 19-1327, which would generate revenue for the Colorado Water Plan by legalizing sports betting in Colorado following voter approval of Proposition DD this coming November.
Inherently, ballot language can be unclear, especially on measures involving taxes. While the language of Proposition DD takes a moment to digest, its purpose is fairly straightforward. If passed, Proposition DD would allow sports betting in Colorado and impose a 10% tax of the profits casinos receive (after paying taxes and paying out winners). This tax would only affect casinos, not individual betters. The majority of the tax revenue received by the state – 93% – will fund Colorado’s Water Plan, with a small portion of the revenue from the tax allocated to regulate and enforce gaming. In short, Proposition DD would change the law to allow sports betting, taxing casino proceeds to protect and restore rivers. The revenue generated from Proposition DD is an important down payment on the funds needed to support the implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan.
American Rivers, along with a broad coalition of environmental, agricultural, recreation and water user groups support Proposition DD because of the funding it will generate for the conservation and restoration of Colorado’s rivers. Colorado’s Water Plan lays out vision for Colorado’s rivers and water future. Passage of Proposition DD will help implement this vision by kickstarting critical activities like restoring river corridors, improving agricultural irrigation systems and keeping water in our rivers for people to swim, boat, and fish. It will also ensure adequate water for wildlife and robust ecosystems to thrive. Colorado needs additional funding to support the implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan and passing Proposition DD is a great step towards fulfilling the state’s water security vision. American Rivers applauds use of these tax benefits from the passage of Proposition DD to support Colorado’s water future.