Colorado Lottery proceeds benefit outdoor recreation and conservation efforts across state
DENVER – The bill to extend the Lottery Division within Colorado’s Department of Revenue, SB18-066, was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper yesterday. Keep It Colorado, a coalition of hundreds of towns, cities, counties and special districts, local businesses, non-profit organizations and individual Coloradans, propelled the bill’s passage. Coalition members are united in support of the state’s ongoing investment of Lottery proceeds in Colorado’s great outdoors.
“We are delighted that our Governor and scores of legislators from both parties came together to continue Colorado’s Lottery Division and our state’s spectacular parks and outdoor recreation program,” said Geoff Wilson, coalition director. “Stakeholders representing the outdoor industry, agriculture, local governments, youth-serving nonprofits, chambers of commerce and many other facets of Colorado life, as well as passionate members of the public, all rallied behind Lottery reauthorization.”
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and Sen. Leroy Garcia in the Colorado Senate and Rep. Jeni James Arndt and Rep. Cole Wist in the House of Representatives, received a vote of 30-5 in the Senate and 48-16 (with one representative excused) in the House. The law extends the operation of the Lottery Division to July 1, 2049, 25 years past July 1, 2024, the date it was previously scheduled to terminate.
After Colorado voters approved a state lottery in 1980, the General Assembly created a Lottery Division to administer the program as an enterprise fund that receives no tax dollars. Since 1983, the Colorado Lottery has returned more than $3 billion in proceeds to the state to invest in outdoor recreation and land, water and wildlife conservation. Since 1992, this work been funded through three organizations: the Conservation Trust Fund (CTF), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
“When Colorado voters created Great Outdoors Colorado in 1992, they showed their strong commitment to conserving Colorado’s incredible natural resources and our extraordinary way of life – for now and future generations. The continued support for this work from across the state is an affirmation of the importance of investing in our lands and waters,” said Carlos Fernandez, Colorado state director for The Nature Conservancy. “We applaud Governor Hickenlooper for signing the bill into law and thank all of those who helped secure its passage.”
In 25 years, GOCO, which annually receives up to half of Lottery proceeds against a cap, has funded more than 5,000 projects in all 64 Colorado counties through its partners: local governments, nonprofit land trusts and CPW. Projects include school yards, playgrounds and enriching outdoor education spaces for our state’s urban and rural youth; hundreds of miles of trails; and more than 1,600 parks and outdoor recreation areas. GOCO funding has also supported the state park system, conserved critical wildlife habitat, protected farms and ranchland, and helped create vibrant local economies.
CTF, a program of Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs, receives 40 percent of Lottery proceeds to fund conservation and recreation work across the state, and CPW receives 10 percent for state parks. In years when Lottery profits exceed the GOCO cap, which they typically do, spillover dollars go to the Colorado Department of Education’s Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund called BEST.
“Colorado’s investment of Lottery proceeds in our great outdoors helps ensure all Coloradans receive the benefits of our state’s outdoor recreation opportunities and vital working farms and ranches,” said Jim Petterson, Southwest and Colorado director at The Trust for Public Land. “These investments strengthen our economy, improve our health and enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods and communities.”
For more information, visit www.KeepItCo.org.