One Pueblo County commissioner has an idea to help pay for college: tax recreational marijuana.
Sal Pace’s proposition will become a ballot measure subject to resident approval. It includes the addition of a five-percent excise tax on recreational marijuana that is grown in Pueblo County, according to a Wednesday news release from the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners. No less than 50 percent of the revenue of that excise tax would be placed in a cash fund that would create college scholarships for high school students in the county.
“Based upon preliminary research this will likely be the world’s first program funding college scholarships with marijuana tax revenue,” according to the release. “A ballot measure proposing a new marijuana excise tax will give Pueblo kids a boost, a chance of college success and help them fight the national epidemic of mounting college debt.”
The special excise tax would be levied between cultivation and sale. Under the new program, residents graduating high school in Pueblo County will be automatically eligible for scholarships from a cash fund created by the tax. If Pueblo voters pass the proposed ballot measure, the program would take effect beginning in 2017, according to the news release.
“Every kid deserves an opportunity to succeed,” Pace said. “Pueblo County has potential new tax revenue from a new marijuana industry that can benefit the kids of Pueblo. College debt has surpassed even credit card debt in America. Middle class families find it hard to send their kids to college, a basic cornerstone of the American Dream. We’re aiming to help alleviate that problem, while funding key school, parks and community projects.”
The Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners will vote August 31 on whether to place the proposal on the upcoming November election ballot, according to the release. The program would initially only be accessible by new college attendees, with the potential of future expansion.
Leftover revenue from the new tax would by used to fund projects in the community, according to the release. Those include:
– Colorado State Fair streetscape refurbishment
– Medical marijuana academic research and marijuana impact grant
– Feasibility study to connect Amtrak’s SW Chief to Pueblo
– Safe Route to Schools: North Mesa, South Mesa and Sage Elementary & Trail Master Plan
– Pueblo historic courthouse dome refurbishment
– Confluence Park county outdoor recreation pavilion
– U.S. Highway 50 feasibility study
– Arts Center funding for long term planning feasibility studies and development of the atrium between Helen T. White and Buell Children’s Museum
– Replace carts and expand clubhouse at Desert Hawk Golf Course in Pueblo West
– Beulah Elementary School playground enhancement
– Pueblo Reservoir bike and hiking trail repair, trail sign improvements
– Create Pueblo County Energy Efficiency Department and solar improvements
– Zinno Water District area water supply needs