Millions of dollars in new funds for Colorado schools – without costing taxpayers one penny
Amendment 68 is a citizens’ ballot measure proposed for the November 2014 statewide election. The initiative will provide more than $100 million dollars for Colorado K-12 schools each year by permitting expanded gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack and no more than one horse racetrack in each of two other counties that have hosted wagering on horse races for at least five years.
The new funds will be provided as additional money for Colorado’s K-12 public and charter schools and will be generated without raising taxes for Colorado citizens or cutting services from other public programs.
Deep funding cuts to K-12 schools threaten our children’s chances for success
Over the past five years, Colorado public and charter schools have endured more than $1 billion in funding cuts. Schools have done their best to provide students with a high quality education while coping with inadequate resources, crumbling facilities and dated learning materials. Despite their best efforts, the children of our state are simply not getting the education and preparation they deserve and need.
While numerous attempts have and continue to be made to restore funding to K-12 schools, the chronic problem of under-funding remains. Colorado ranks near the bottom among all US states in public per-pupil funding for education.
We owe it to our children to better prepare them – and in turn, our state – for future success.
Amendment 68 will offer voters the opportunity to provide a new, reliable and protected funding stream to improve K-12 education in Colorado.
Amendment 68 will create a vitally needed new revenue stream to improve Colorado K-12 schools
Under the citizen’s initiative, more than $100 million dollars will be generated each year for Colorado K-12 schools simply by expanding gaming at Arapahoe Park horse racetrack. That amount is roughly equal to the annual sum of all payments made by Colorado’s 35-plus existing casinos. That is because the percentage of revenue from Arapahoe gaming that will go to benefit our schools will be more than double the average percentage existing casinos currently pay to their beneficiaries.
Additionally, Arapahoe Park horse racetrack will pay an initial one-time fee of $25 million directly to the new K-12 Education Fund established under the measure to ensure schools begin receiving benefits as soon as possible. Arapahoe Park will also work together with local government to establish an annual fee to be paid by the track that will offset the host community’s costs for providing public services.
The measure also allows expanded gaming at two future horse racetracks – one each in Mesa and Pueblo Counties – once they meet certain qualifying criteria. Additional approved gaming in either or both Pueblo and Mesa Counties would add substantial annual revenue to the K-12 Education Fund.
The new education funds will be distributed to public school districts and the Colorado Charter School Institute on a per-pupil basis to fund education improvement programs such as:
- Reducing class sizes
- Acquiring new technology like computers and tablets for students and teachers
- Enhancing school safety and security
- Improving school buildings and facilities
The needs of individual schools differ widely, and this formula will give each district the flexibility to spend the new funds in the way that best meets local needs.
The money that will be generated by Amendment 68 is dedicated solely to improving K-12 schools and will be protected from being used for any other purpose under the newly established K-12 Education Fund.
Amendment 68 sets specific guidelines and limits while requiring strict regulatory oversight
Under the initiative, expanded gaming is restricted to no more than three horse racetracks that have had at least five continuous years of horse racing with wagering at the time they apply for an expanded gaming license. Specifically, the initiative permits expanded gaming at no more than one Class B horse racetrack in each of three Colorado counties – Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo. Using these strict qualifying criteria, the measure ensures that gaming does not expand beyond where it already exists.
The racetracks will be strictly regulated and subject to oversight by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission, the same state organization that oversees existing limited gaming in Colorado.
In addition, the K-12 Education Fund will undergo annual financial audits conducted by the State Auditor.
Local economies and workers will greatly benefit
In addition to Colorado’s K-12 schools, workers and the state’s economy will also greatly benefit from the creation of hundreds of new construction jobs initially, and hundreds more permanent jobs.
Racetrack visitation will drive more customers to local businesses and provide a boost for the economy. Wages from newly created jobs will also go to purchasing more goods and services in the community.