Maybe you don’t win when you plunk down $1 for that lottery ticket. Except, actually, you do.
While the lottery pays out few jackpots on slim odds, the state gets a cut of ticket revenues, which are poured back into multiple public projects.
If you’ve ever used city trails, the sports complex on Sunset Mesa, McNeil Fields, or even the skate park, you have benefited directly from the lottery dollars that fund the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund.
In Montrose alone, GOCO and other lottery-based funding have contributed millions of dollars toward the public good.
Voters approved a state lottery decades ago, the proceeds of which are administered by the Colorado Lottery Division, within the Department of Revenue.
Colorado Lottery funding has, since 1992, funded projects through the Conservation Trust Fund, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Great Outdoors Colorado.
The conservation fund receives 40 percent of proceeds and CPW receives 10 percent. Fifty percent of proceeds go to the GOCO Trust Fund. This is capped at about $65 million; the amount above the cap goes to fund school construction as is currently underway at Columbine Middle School.
But, unless there is legislative action, the Colorado Lottery Division will expire 2024.
The push to have lawmakers this session reauthorize the division is on — and it’s a critical cause, not just a worthy one.
Look no further than Columbine Middle School. The original building was failing before Montrose nabbed $12 million through Building Excellent Schools Today. Local voters then also approved a 4.51 mill levy for the district’s $21.3 million portion of the school construction, but thanks to leftover GOCO dollars, we will be paying $12 million less. And our students are the winners.
Many of the positive things happening in Montrose — and their wider economic benefit — would not be possible without this kind of funding, or at least, they would be much harder to accomplish.
Montrose last year won a $2 million grant for Connecting the People to their Parks and Recreation project. Under it, the city, recreation district and other partners are building out trails from Riverbottom Park to the rec center, as well as extending them north, to the Colorado Outdoors Project property. There, a private company is creating an expansive, outdoor-based business park and residential area that stands to attract more jobs to Montrose.
Over the years, GOCO lottery proceeds also helped build restrooms at Altrusa Park, the skate park, tennis courts, a playground, helped fund the Uncompahgre River Master Plan, aided in the removal of invasive weeds along riparian areas and for weed removal in the Marine Road open space. The proceeds also helped Montrose add one more jewel to its crown: The Montrose Water Sports Park.
But the General Assembly must act to support such ventures, by reauthorizing the lottery proceeds in accordance with the existing 40-10-50 formula for the conservation trust, CPW and GOCO.
The lottery money has boosted Montrose’s economy, as well as its quality of life. Future improvements to both are at stake unless the Legislature acts.
We urge the body to follow in the footsteps of those like Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Marc Catlin in supporting GOCO funding by acting quickly.
The Montrose Daily Press Editorial Board is comprised of Publisher Tonya Maddox, Managing Editor Matt Lindberg, Senior Writer Katharhynn Heidelberg and News Editor Monica Garica.