State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, says he is opposing Proposition DD, the ballot measure that asks voters to legalize and tax sports betting to fund water projects in the state.
Sonnenberg, who’s long focused on water issues in Colorado, cited unanswered questions and a lack of transparency within the measure for his opposition.
Proposition DD, which has bipartisan support amongst Sonnenberg’s colleagues, would create a 10 percent tax on betting proceeds and eventually raise an estimated $29 million in revenue that would go toward funding water projects.
The ballot measure, on the Nov. 5 ballot along with Proposition CC, needs voter approval as required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights since it would raise taxes.
“In an era of money-hungry government, this election cycle seeks to move us further down a path asking taxpayers to give more, fund more, pay more,” Sonnenberg said.
“I have remained publicly neutral on Proposition DD as several questions were not answered,” he added. “Instead, I proposed policy changes to require transparency. Those questions remain unclear and any transparency policy has so far been rejected.”
While Sonnenberg said he favors providing funding for water in the state, the ballot measure doesn’t come with a provision that protects its funding from being raided by lawmakers down the line.
“On the surface this seems great: we need to make sure we have funding available to build storage and keep Colorado’s water in Colorado,” he said. “Except, just like Prop CC, the legislature can raid funds set aside for water and use them for something else. And they have in the past – since 2002, $322 million specified for water projects has been spent elsewhere.”
Proposition CC, the other ballot measure voters have to decide on, asks voters to allow state government to keep excess revenue that TABOR currently requires be refunded back to taxpayers. The excess revenue would be split evenly between public schools, higher education and transportation funding.
Sonnenberg also questioned how revenue generated from Proposition DD would specifically be spent in the state’s water plan.
The senator’s opposition to the ballot measure comes as several of his prominent Republican colleagues are in favor of the proposition.
“DD will provide the funding necessary to protect Colorado’s water. It addresses core challenges like the need for water infrastructure with targeted approaches that do not increase taxes on the general public,” several Republican lawmakers recently wrote in an op-ed. “By doing this, we keep the pressure for new taxes off the taxpayers in our great state.”