We are now at that beautiful point in any election year when the leaves turn colors and offer up awesome vistas, a sure reminder of nature’s wonder … Oh no, wait, that’s Autumn I’m describing. We are now at that point in election years where the mudslinging begins, where the pleasant comfort of a Sunday afternoon dozing in front of the TV is shattered by that most powerful of traditions: the campaign ad.
Of all the campaign ads this year, not one is as annoying as the “No” on Amendment 68, which promises doom and gloom for Colorado at the hands of that den of loose morals, intemperance, and gambler’s nest known more commonly as “Rhode Island.” But what is Amendment 68, and how does it benefit Rhode Island?
Amendment 68 is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would expand legalized gambling in Colorado, specifically at the Arapahoe Park horse tracks in Aurora, as well as horsetracks in Mesa and Pueblo County. The proceeds in taxable revenue from the expanded gambling area would go to the funding of both K-12 and charter schools.
Sounds pretty good, right? The people of Colorado are allowed to gamble and the proceeds go to funding the education of the youth. Naturally, the opposition to this plan is comprised of the major gambling interests within the state who are only concerned with the potential lost revenue that would come of this plan. Politics as usual, nothing to see here.
Despite the plan to fund education, the amendment has three significant drawbacks that ultimately outweigh the benefits.
Firstly, the expansion of gambling in other places will take away revenue (and consequently, jobs) from the existing casinos. This is a problem because it is still largely unclear whether or not the new race tracks/casinos will be able to provide enough economic lift to sustain what is lost elsewhere.
Secondly, the emergence of new arenas for legalized gambling that will contribute to education funds is a nice goal. Really, it is. The only problem is that the existing casinos already contribute quite a bit of money from taxes for tourism, historic preservation, and local colleges within Colorado. The opening of new casinos would only dilute the two program funds. This is significant because it is estimated that the education fund would only translate to about one hundred dollars per student.
Lastly, this amendment is too narrow to be effective in regards to efficiency. As it stands now, only one group stands to immediately benefit from the amendment. For those of you reading along and still wondering what any of this has to do with Rhode Island, the sole group in a position to immediately benefit is a casino based in Rhode Island and owned by Rhode Islanders. It seems silly to modify the state’s constitution over three racetracks for the benefit of an out of state casino, especially when the rewards for Coloradoans are so few.
On the basis of these concerns, a vote against Amendment 68 is a responsible choice come November, despite the amendment’s purported benefit to Colorado’s Education.
Collegian Columnist Jesse Carey can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter by @junotbend