Colorado legislators could be called back to a special session to fix accidental pot tax reduction

The Colorado State Senate, March 15, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Colorado Politics reports that Gov. John Hickenlooper has been inquiring after legislators’ October schedules, and there may be a special session to fix a problem with SB 267, an omnibus bill that reshaped key aspects of Colorado’s budget.

The mistake in the drafting, first reported by Complete Colorado, affects the Regional Transportation District, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and districts that fund housing and public health in rural counties.

One of the bill’s provisions raised the state retail tax on marijuana from 10 percent to 15 percent, the full amount authorized by voters, and eliminated the 2.9 percent regular state sales tax on marijuana. That way, we didn’t end up with an actual marijuana tax rate of 17.9 percent. It was here that the special districts’ funding was accidentally eliminated, along with the 2.9 percent sales tax.

RTD collects a 1 percent sales tax to fund transit in the six-county Denver metro area, and the SCFD collects a 0.1 percent sales tax to fund institutions like the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, along with a host of smaller cultural organizations.

For RTD, the lost revenue amounts to about $500,000 a month, or $3 million if the mistake isn’t fixed until January when the legislature would normally return.

Hickenlooper declined to ask for a special session in May to push legislators to come up with a transportation package after a bipartisan bill failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.