By Jerry Kopel
I'm voting against Referendum A on the Nov. 6th statewide election ballot. It allows Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to borrow up to $115 million by selling bonds. Creditors could be repaid with interest, plus commissions to bond sellers, up to $180 million.
GOCO is not a state agency. Its rules and regulations are not subject to state administrative procedure statutes. How it uses money isn't subject to appropriation by the legislature. Despite being proclaimed a "political subdivision of the state", GOCO's organization, powers, revenues and expenses are not affected by any legislative act. The only restraint is whatever one can find elsewhere in the constitution.
There are no checks and balances. The Senate can attempt to exact promises before confirming GOCO board members. The state auditor can audit income and disbursements and release accounting and performance findings. But neither the auditor nor the legislature can do anything about suggested improvements. That's because the constitution proclaims GOCO's language is "self-implementing". The legislature can enact statutes, but GOCO can ignore them if they interfere with GOCO's authority.
To me, the 15 member GOCO board is a fourth branch of government and more so if GOCO is given the power to go into debt through the sale of bonds.
David Harrison, author of the GOCO language in the constitution admitted in 1992 "(he) would love to be able to fine-tune the wording of (GOCO), but it's too late now..."
If you spent $10 on lottery tickets in fiscal 2000, slightly less than $1.20 went to GOCO. Lottery players buying Powerball tickets may, for several years, increase the amount of money available for GOCO, but the Lottery Commission expects lottery revenues to become static once the novelty of Powerball wears off.
Governing Magazine's September issue reported lottery revenue declined in over half the states with lotteries, including many states that play Powerball or other multi-state games.
Referendum A proponents argue requests for help are three to four times the money GOCO can spend each year. Of course! State budget requests are also three to four times the amount the state has to spend.
If GOCO does pay back $180 million for $115 million borrowed, that equals $9 million a year coming off the top no matter how little money the lottery brings in for GOCO in future years unless we then "expand" the lottery beyond Powerball.
Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel