Ballot Measure 300: Pandemic Research Fund

 

SHALL DENVER RETAIL MARIJUANA SALES TAX BE INCREASED BY $7 MILLION ANNUALLY, BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2022, AND BY WHATEVER ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ARE RAISED ANNUALLY THEREAFTER, FROM A ONE AND ONE-HALF (1.5) PERCENT RETAIL MARIJUANA SALES TAX TO BE USED TO FUND:

  • PANDEMIC RESEARCH FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC FROM THE SPREAD OF PANDEMIC PATHOGENS, INCLUDING AT SCHOOLS, BUSINESSES, AND HOSPITALS;
  • PANDEMIC RESEARCH FOR PANDEMIC PREPAREDNESS AND RECOVERY, INCLUDING URBAN, ECONOMIC, AND SCHOOL PLANNING;

PROVIDED THAT THE FUNDS WILL BE DEDICATED ENTIRELY TO THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER CITYCENTER WHICH WILL BE REQUIRED TO EQUITABLY ALLOCATE THE FUNDS WHEREIN SEVENTY-FIVE (75) PERCENT OF THE FUNDS ARE LIMITED TO THE THREE RESEARCH CATEGORIES OF: PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT; DISINFECTION AND STERILIZATION TECHNOLOGY; AND DESIGN FEATURES OF PHYSICAL SPACES, AND THAT TWENTY-FIVE (25) PERCENT OF THE FUNDS ARE LIMITED TO RESEARCHING PUBLIC POLICY AND PLANNING, THAT NO MORE THAN EIGHT (8) PERCENT OF THE TAX REVENUE IN ANY YEAR SHALL BE SPENT ON ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES, THAT AFTER TWENTY YEARS THE AREAS OF TECHNOLOGICAL RESEARCH TO REDUCE THE SPREAD OF PANDEMIC PATHOGENS MAY BE EXPANDED, THAT OVERSIGHT WILL REQUIRE ANNUAL AUDIT AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS, AND REQUIRING THAT REVENUES FROM THESE INCREASED TAXES SHALL BE COLLECTED AND SPENT WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY EXPENDITURE, REVENUE-RAISING, OR OTHER LIMITATION CONTAINED WITHIN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER LAW?

Comments For and Against

Summary of Comments FOR

The widespread devastation of COVID-19 caught the entire nation off guard, and local communities like Denver suffered. It didn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be for the next pandemic.

In Denver, we’ve all been personally impacted. We spent months in isolation, unable to be with our families, our neighbors, and our friends. Denver’s children lost countless hours of school and missed out on socializing, learning, and accessing basic needs. Our restaurants and small businesses lost vital income, and some had to shutter their doors forever. And our essential workers sacrificed their own safety to save the lives of others.

As a city, we’ve faced--and are still dealing with--the loss of loved ones and neighbors, serious mental health impacts, major inequities, and significant economic harm from COVID-19. We weren’t prepared for this pandemic. And, because there has been almost no investment into protecting us from the next pandemic, we remain unprepared. We need to do better.

Initiated Ordinance 300 will dedicate $7 million per year to fund locally-based, critical research into:

  • advanced technologies to protect the public from the spread of pandemic pathogens, including at schools, businesses, and hospitals; and
  • pandemic preparedness and recovery, including urban, economic, and school planning.

When Denver approved the sale of recreational marijuana, Denver voters also approved up to a fifteen percent sales tax on marijuana. The one and a half percent amount in Initiated Ordinance 300 is a small fraction of the unused pre-approved amount, and leaves plenty of room for other spending needs. Initiated Ordinance 300 will not take money away from any other programs or services.

For only 15 cents on a $10 recreational marijuana purchase (medical marijuana is exempt), we will be able to:

  • innovate better masks and other personal protective equipment for health-care workers and the general public that are more effective and more comfortable;
  • improve building ventilation and disinfectant systems to make schools, hospitals, assisted living homes and shelters safer for everyone; and
  • create an evidence-based plan for implementing best practices when the next pandemic strikes.

Denverites have long taken charge of our own fate. Initiated Ordinance 300 helps us prepare for the next pandemic before it starts.

Vote YES on Initiated Ordinance 300 so that next time, we’ll be ready.

Summary of Comments AGAINST

As one informed, savvy local politician stated, “This is “is a pointless tax grab, CU-Denver did not ask for it, yet the sponsors made it the beneficiary.” Right now marijuana sales are the commodity of choice for those who wish to gain more money for more government spending by instituting another “sin” tax. In fact, marijuana is over taxed at various levels, and this initiative just adds fuel to the fire. The unintended consequences of this tax, and others like it, are to drive more marijuana sales underground into the black market arena. This will mean ultimately that there will be a criminal element introduced further into present marijuana industry. And then more tax dollars fighting the crimes that will result.

Secondly, since CU Denver CityCenter did not ask for or want these funds, the stated goals of the initiative are in danger of never being achieved and the funds diverted to other purposes. This is not unheard of in the world of government.