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Tax Law

State Net Capitol Journal – October 19, 2015; Denver to Consider Local Tax for Higher Ed

Budget & Taxes

Denver to Consider Local Tax for Higher Ed

A measure bound for Denver, Colorado’s Nov. 3 ballot would raise the city’s sales tax to help local college students cover the rising cost of their tuition. Supporters of Measure 2A - who include Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) and former Denver Mayor and current Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) - say it gives the city an opportunity to be an innovator.

But some of Denver’s Democrats question whether the city should be getting involved in higher education funding, traditionally the state’s purview.

“My goodness, we’re straying awfully far from our responsibilities,” said longtime Denver City Councilwoman Cathy Reynolds.

With four grandchildren, Reynolds said she’s certainly “concerned about college costs.”

“But I don’t think Denver city government ought to be paying for it,” she said.

Jim Corlett, a member of the Democratic Party of Denver’s Central Committee, who also opposes Measure 2A, said it just feeds “into the escalation of college costs.”

“It helps a few people make it through, but it does absolutely nothing about the core problem of the massive increases in higher education [costs],” he said.

Measure 2A is also lagging behind the two other tax measures slated for Denver’s November ballot, Measure 2B, which would continue the sales tax on marijuana approved by voters in 2013, and Measure 2C, which would extend the city’s tourism tax. The $180,790 that Measure 2A has drawn is only a sixth of the $1.2 million that has been collected in support of Measure 2C.

But another former Denver Mayor and Measure 2A supporter, Wellington Webb, said: “The money that goes to the kids, it’s always last. And so I think it’s going to be a close election, but it’s [going to rest on] all the people who care about us having an educated workforce for the future and having an opportunity to provide for kids to get them in college.”

“I still think we’re going to win,” he added. (DENVER POST)

Congress Considering ‘Backdoor Ban’ on Internet Gaming

Opponents of Internet gambling in the U.S. Congress have tried to ban it for years without success. But legislation currently being floated on the Hill would initiate a two-year study on Internet gambling - and ban states from legalizing it for at least that long.

The legislation, HB 707 and SB 1668, titled the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), was reportedly drafted by a lobbyist with ties to casino magnate and major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, who told Forbes in 2013 he’d spend “whatever it takes” to stop the expansion of Internet gambling.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, has called RAWA’s bluff.

“An Internet gambling moratorium is nothing more than prohibition in sheep’s clothing,” he said. “They can’t get RAWA through the front door so they are trying to squeeze it through the back.”

A moratorium may fare no better in Congress than a ban has. The repeated attempts at a federal ban have drawn strong opposition from groups like the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and Americans for Tax Reform, who see it as an encroachment of state’s rights under the Tenth Amendment. And presumably they would view a temporary ban the same way.

On the other hand, the moratorium has the support of a Republican donor who poured at least $25 million into the 2014 Congressional midterms in support of Republicans and opposition to Democrats. (HILL)

Budgets In Brief - October 19 2015

WY energy revenues well below forecast: WYOMING Gov. Matt Mead (R) announced at a news conference last week that the state will likely face a budget shortfall of $100 million to $200 million in the current fiscal year because energy revenues are lagging so far behind projections (WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE). * Deal reached on NY transit plan: NEW YORK Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Municipal Transportation Authority officials have reached a deal on how to fund the state’s $29 billion five-year capital plan for transportation improvements and maintenance. The plan calls for New York City to nearly quadruple its contribution from $657 million to $2.5 billion (NEW YORK TIMES). * More transportation spending in IN: INDIANA Gov. Mike Pence (R) has proposed spending $1 billion more on road and bridge improvements over the next four years. His 21st Century Crossroads plan would be funded through a combination of state reserves and new spending and borrowing but no new taxes (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, LEXISNEXIS STATE NET).

- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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