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Denver Transit Surprised With $6M Revenue Cut

(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

When it comes to legislation, there are small typos (like a misplaced comma) and slightly larger ones, like the omission of a major revenue source for Colorado’s special taxing districts. That latter one will be playing out in the state’s Regional Transportation District, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and others that fund housing and public health in rural counties this year, all thanks to quickly written legislation, Denverite reports.

From the news site:

This goes back to Senate Bill 267, probably the most significant piece of legislation to come out of the 2017 Colorado General Assembly. It turned the hospital provider fee into an enterprise fund, protecting funding for hospitals going forward, and set aside money for rural schools and roads, among many other provisions. This bill was still being written in the final days of the session, and it contained so many bits and pieces that one legislator called it a “casserole.”

It turns out one ingredient was missing when the casserole went in the oven: marijuana revenue for Colorado’s special taxing districts.

The accidental elimination of the special districts’ funding will translate to about $500,000 a month for the Regional Transportation District (RTD), which collects a 1 percent sales tax to fund transit in the Denver metro area. The Science and Cultural Facilities District will take a smaller hit, because it collects only a .1 percent sales tax, but it has to split the money between the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Botanic Gardens, among others. Other affected departments include several regional transportation authorities in mountain communities and in El Paso County, a housing authority in Summit County and a health services district in Montezuma County, Denverite reports.

Legislative typos are, of course, inevitable, but as Colorado shows, they can have massive impacts. Take the Hill staffer who wrote that there could be no new regulations until employment was at 6 percent or less in the 2012 Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act (they meant unemployment, of course). And even that sneaky little comma can have lasting implications.

Nate Currey, a spokesman for RTD, told Denverite that an expected fix is in the works.

“It’s a good lesson to the legislators that words matter,” he said. “Even just a couple words in a bill can have a big impact.”