Have times been tough for your family in the recent economic downturn?
I know a lot of people who have suffered, and still are suffering as the economy only slowly recovers. But what if I told you that the casino industry in Colorado thinks it should get a tax cut--just because times are tough?
You'd ask what makes them so special, wouldn't you?
It's hard to believe, but this is exactly what almost happened. A few weeks ago, the casino industry convinced the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission to lower taxes on casino profits--right after voters approved Amendment 50 in 2008, which allowed casinos to take much bigger bets and introduce new casino games to raise additional revenue for our state's underfunded community colleges. Many organizations including ProgressNow Colorado supported Amendment 50; not because we wanted more gambling, but because our colleges desperately need the help!
Fortunately, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper didn't stand for it. Last week, Hickenlooper asked for the resignation of the entire gaming commission after they refused to reconsider their terrible decision to cut taxes on the casino industry at the expense of community colleges. (Denver Post, 7/7/2011) Now, Gov. Hickenlooper is being attacked by Republicans like House Speaker Frank McNulty for refusing to allow casinos to receive a tax cut while our schools suffer.
In his statement announcing the replacement of all members of the gaming commission, Gov. Hickenlooper summed up the issue brilliantly: "Gaming should be subject to the same risks and rewards of operating and expanding as other industries that don't have the same ability to change their tax rate based on market conditions. Colorado casinos pay among the lowest tax rates in America, and to lower them even further in these times of unmet needs in local communities makes it appear they are diverting their fair and rightful obligation onto their neighbors in the rest of the state."
This was a brave show of support for our community colleges, and just plain sensible fiscal policy. Gov. Hickenlooper needs to know that progressives are behind him as he fights back against bad ideas like this one. It's also not over: the new commission must still vote to undo the previous commission's vote to cut casino taxes. Click here to show your support for our community colleges over casinos, and tell Gov. Hickenlooper that you'll have his back every time he does the right thing.