State Net Capitol Journal – March 17, 2014; Colorado Recreational Pot Sales Trail Estimates

State Net Capitol Journal – March 17, 2014; Colorado Recreational Pot Sales Trail Estimates

Budget & Taxes

CO RECREATIONAL POT SALES TRAIL ESTIMATES: In January, Colorado's first month of legalized recreational marijuana sales, the state took in slightly over $2 million in associated taxes, according to a press release last week from the state's Department of Revenue. That total included $1.4 million from the state's special 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, $416,690 from its regular 2.9 percent sales tax, and $195,318 in excise taxes paid by recreational marijuana businesses. Based on those numbers, recreational marijuana businesses did a little over $14 million in retail sales for the month.

While those first-in-the-nation figures are historic, they're well off the pace of previous estimates for recreational pot sales and revenues in the state. Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper's (D) budget office projected sales from both recreational and medical marijuana would generate nearly $134 million in tax and fee revenues for the fiscal year that begins in July, which presumes marijuana sales of close to $1 billion, with about $600 million coming from recreational pot shops. Both the governor's office and state legislative analysts also predicted recreational marijuana sales in the first six months of 2014 would exceed $190 million.

But the number of recreational pot shops, which stood at 59 in January, continues to rise, and a state rule exempted some early marijuana transfers from excise tax, which could make revenue projections a moving target for another month or so.

"We expect clear revenue patterns will emerge by April and plan to incorporate this data into future forecasts," Barbara Brohl, head of the state's Department of Revenue, said in a statement. (DENVER POST, STATE NET)

VA LAWMAKERS ADJOURN WITHOUT PASSING BUDGET: Virginia lawmakers headed home from their 2013 session last week without passing a state budget. The state's GOP-controlled House and politically split Senate — with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans — were unable to break their gridlock over Medicaid expansion and approve a spending plan for the biennium that starts July 1 or even approve revisions to the state's current budget.\

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has called a special session for March 24, and he believes the two-week break will be beneficial for lawmakers.

"I think it's important for everybody to go home to their constituents and hear the issues that I've been hearing as I've been traveling around the commonwealth," said McAuliffe, who's been publicly campaigning for the use of federal Medicaid expansion money to provide health coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income, uninsured Virginians. (ROANOKE TIMES, STATE NET)

BUDGETS IN BRIEF: MAINE Gov. Paul LePage (R) proposed a referendum asking voters if they want tax relief in exchange for $100 million in unspecified state spending cuts. The proposal echoes remarks LePage made last month in his State of the State speech, but Democrats and his opponents in the state's November governor's race called it an election-year stunt, saying LePage is free to propose spending cuts and tax reform through the state budget process (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, STATE NET). • LOUISIANA's film industry has exploded since the state expanded its film tax credit program in 2002, with the number of films shot in the state going from just one that year to 118 in 2010. But the 30 percent credit against expenses for productions with budgets over $300,000 has also invited corruption, including the conviction of a former head of the state's film production recruitment effort in 2009 for accepting bribes in exchange for credits (TIMES-PICAYUNE [NEW ORLEANS]. • NEBRASKA state Sen. Burke Harr (D), sponsor of a measure granting income tax cuts (LB 1097), said the proposal appears to be dead for the year, due to "political realities" he said included the state's short 60-day legislative session and the fact that this is the last year in office for the state's governor and 17 senators (OMAHA.COM, STATE NET). • The number of DELAWARE residents receiving food stamps has nearly tripled over the past decade (NEWS JOURNAL [NEW CASTLE]). • The Miami Dolphins are seeking an exemption from property taxes for Sun Life Stadium in exchange for privately funding a $350 million stadium renovation that would put South FLORIDA back in the running to host Super Bowls (MIAMI HERALD).

- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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