Colorado State Senator Ray Scott tried to deceive his constituents in a recent Facebook post.
In the post, Scott pointed to a recent Denver Post article about how Colorado’s marijuana tax revenues are being used, and used the benefit of a sharply truncated headline and added an ominously intro to create the perception that the legislature is misusing marijuana funds. About marijuana tax money, Scott wrote, “If you thought it went to schools this will enlighten you”.
Below is Scott’s actual post (forwarded to me by a friend, because Ray Scott blocks me from his Facebook page):
But the full headline from the Denver Post story has an entirely different spin, saying Amendment 64’s promise to use marijuana funds to repair schools is being kept, but “in measured amounts.”
…And the article itself conveys information that ends up being the exact opposite of what Scott intimated.
A bonanza of funding
The article explains that Amendment 64’s organizers greatly underestimated the financial bonanza the state would reap from legal marijuana. Before the passage of the amendment, they thought the state might take in $60-70 million annually in tax revenue from pot sales, so they worded Amendment 64 very precisely and required the first $40 million in excise taxes to be used only for school construction projects across the state. They thought $40 million would be a generous amount of the total take.
In reality, the state now takes in almost $300 million a year in pot tax revenue. The additional money is helping the state fund far more school projects than it had anticipated, but the article also says that despite this, requests from school districts for marijuana money have also ballooned astronomically in the last couple of years, too, limiting the number of projects the state can fund even with the additional revenue.
So it’s by far mostly good news.
Beyond just school construction, marijuana funds have been used to replace the roofs on dozens schools, add fire sprinkler systems to old school buildings built before fire sprinklers existed, add security systems, more classrooms and brand new gyms to schools to replace dilapidated ones. On the western slope, DeBeque received $5.3 million for their schools in 2015. Montrose got a $1.1 million grant in 2018 for asbestos abatement and Plateau Valley got $494,000 for their pre-K – 12th grade school in 2016. A chart of every last expenditure of marijuana revenue even shows that Mesa Valley School District 51 received $13.9 million in marijuana funds last year to build the new Orchard Mesa Middle School.
Scott didn’t mention any of that good news in his post, though. He wanted to make people think pot money is being grossly misused.
The article Scott cited was literally all about how marijuana money is being poured into projects to improve schools all around the state, and despite all the additional pot revenues the state is pulling in, applications for grants have ballooned too, so not all projects that are submitted for grants can be funded and many schools’ needs remain unmet.
Most of Scott’s constituents won’t have access to the whole story, though.
The Denver Post is now behind a paywall, so most of Scott’s constituents here on the western slope can’t read the entire article without agreeing to pay $11.99/month for a digital subscription. You can get a few free articles a month without subscribing, though, and some people were able to read the entire article.
After they did, they weren’t happy at all with Senator Scott. They gave Scott hell for trying to deceive them, or for just failing to read the entire article himself before posting it:
The moral of the story is that we must all be skeptical of what Ray Scott posts on his social media. He has no problem deceiving people and may not tell the whole story if he thinks it will advantage him with his right-wing base. This also tells us either Ray Scott doesn’t like to read much — like very far past a headline, for example — and that he is okay with providing constituents with misinformation if it suits him. If you are one of the people who chastised him over this post, his next step could be to block you, so be careful.
Fortunately, many of his constituents already know this about Senator Scott. They keep an eye out for this kind of misbehavior and tell others, like people he blocks from his social media, so they know how their elected official is behaving and trying to screw with you.
By the way, here is a link to an entire port detailing where marijuana revenue goes.(pdf)
Here is a chart from the original article showing how requests for grant funds to repair or build schools has outpaced the amount of money raised from marijuana that goes toward that use: