Panel stalls lottery for veterans funds
DENVER — Less than a week after a Senate committee approved a proposed referendum for the fall ballot to create a special lottery game to fund veterans programs, that same committee killed it Monday.
The bill had been sent back to the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee at the request of its sponsors, Sens. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, and Steve King, R-Grand Junction.
The two wanted the committee to send the bill instead to the Senate Finance Committee because they lacked the votes to get it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where the panel initially sent it on a narrow 3–2 vote.
But in a surprise move, one of its supporters, Sen. Kevin Grantham, switched his vote, killing the measure in the process. The Cañon City Republican said he did so because there still were too many unanswered questions about the idea.
“I made it pretty clear in the committee meeting the other day I had some serious questions on this issue,” Grantham said. “I voted yes to try to give it more time that maybe that one answer was out there. But all the question marks simply tilt the scale so much. Those answers were not coming.”
The measure ended up pitting veterans groups against the environmental community.
At issue for Grantham and two other senators on the committee, Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and Tim Neville, R-Littleton, was whether selling lottery tickets for veterans would get them the money they needed to fund veterans programs without cutting into other ticket sales, which goes to outdoor projects and open space.
Grantham said he also was concerned the measure would make lottery money a target for other efforts to generate funding for a variety of programs.
Supporters said it would generate about $2 million a year, but there’s little evidence to support that from the Colorado Lottery.
Colorado Department of Revenue officials said there was no way to know if that money would be raised or what impact, if any, it would have on traditional lottery sales.