Top Colorado agricultural groups said Tuesday they're endorsing Proposition DD on the November ballot.
The group Yes on Proposition DD said the coalition of ag interests in support includes the Colorado Association of Wheat Growers, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Corn Growers Association, Colorado Dairy Farmers, the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Pork Producers and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.
The question, in effect, could legalize sports betting by taxing licensed casinos' profits off the games, with the money to benefit the state's water supply plan. The tax is 10% and would apply to license-holders at casinos in Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City.
House Bill 1327 referred the measure to the ballot during the spring legislative session, enjoying bipartisan support and passing easily.
Supporters assert that the taxes could bring in $29 million a year to fund the Colorado Water Plan created during the Hickenlooper administration and approved in 2015. That money would help pay for water projects statewide aimed at better serving agriculture and conservation.
“Most farmers and ranchers could care less about sports betting. But this is a smart way to pay for the critical water infrastructure that Colorado's future needs,” Chad Vorthmann, the executive vice president of the Colorado Farm Bureau, said in a statement.
Officials have estimated the water plan needs about $100 million a year in each of the next three decades, and income off the legalized games are an estimate.
"With dedicated funding through Proposition DD, we can ensure that Colorado’s Water Plan is implemented to secure a water future for the benefit of our businesses, our communities, and our rivers and streams,” stated Brad Erker, the executive director of the Colorado Wheat Growers.
The Yes on Proposition DD group provided statements from leaders of the other endorsing groups, as well:
- “This measure is an important step to ensuring adequate water supplies for agriculture amid our state’s growing population,” said David Eckhardt, a farmer and president of the Colorado Corn Growers Association.
- “The common denominator linking all of agriculture in Colorado is water. Colorado’s dairy farmers support Proposition DD because it will provide funding for critical water projects in our state helping to ensure we maximize the use of this precious natural resource,” said Chris Craft, board chairman for the Colorado Dairy Farmers.
- “We're pleased to endorse Proposition DD, which is a dedicated funding stream for water storage and conservation in Colorado in the face of increased population and growing demands for this limited resource,” said Joyce Kelly, executive director of the Colorado Pork Producers.