Where Should Prop BB Money Go? Balancing Act Lets You Decide.

There's just one statewide measure on the ballot this November: Proposition BB. If passed, it would allow the state to retain and spend $66.1 million in revenue from marijuana collected through the first year of Proposition AA taxes. If it fails, that money will be refunded to taxpayers (it would amount to about $8 for taxpayer, which wouldn't buy you a prerolled joint). But while this disputed windfall is all pot revenue, the reason we're having this vote is not because Colorado collected too much from legalized marijuana. No, it's because healthy state tax revenues in general pushed Colorado past the point where the Taxpayers Bill of Rights kicks in, requiring a vote of the state's residents on whether the government can keep the overage. (Here's a hint: the state's coffers may be healthy now, but there's no guarantee they'll stay that way...and Colorado has plenty of metaphoric potholes to fill.) 

 If BB passes, $40 million will be spent on school construction (which people thought they were approving when they passed Amendment 64 three years ago) and $12 million will be spent to fund state programs that will help educate kids in those schools about marijuana, as well as provide for other pot-related services. That leaves $14.1 million that was initially unallocated. Colorado House Bill 15-1367 recently diverted $6.1 of that to the General Fund. That means $8 million is entirely unallocated.

And the Colorado marijuana tax Balancing Act online budget simulator lets Coloradans weigh in on what they’d do with that $8 million in unallocated marijuana tax dollars by creating their own recommended budgets. The simulator is a tool created by Engaged Public, a Denver public policy firm that has created other programs to promote citizen education and engagement on one of the most important tasks of public entities: budgets.

Ready to play? Find the Balancing Act here. Now, if the group could just create a game that would help everyone understand TABOR...
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun