When Colorado voters approved gambling in 1992, they were told that gaming revenue would be used to cover the extra law enforcement costs incurred by the gaming industry.
But, during budget shortfall and TABOR times, all bets are off.
Gov. Bill Ritter has proposed diverting $5.5 million from the Division of Gaming to balance the state’s under-funded 2010 budget.
As a result, the budget for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office could see $500,000 siphoned from its current budget at a time when both El Paso and Teller counties have seen a “huge jump” in economic crime, drunken driving and cases of abused or neglected children associated with gambling, according to El Paso County Commission Chairman Jim Bensberg.
“El Paso County and its partner agencies have come to rely on gaming impact funds to mitigate the negative aspects of state controlled gambling. Our legislators should promptly tell the governor to release these funds to cash-poor affected counties,” he said in a statement.
In addition to cuts at the District Attorney’s Office, CASA will be unable to provide services for 46 victims of severe child abuse related to gambling.
Bensberg also said there could be even more dire outcomes such as the loss of counseling and safety services for more than 60 victims of domestic violence at TESSA – or the threat of a severe reduction in repairs to local roads and bridges which bear the brunt of increased traffic generated by the casinos.
The Board of Commissioners invites county residents to petition the state’s Joint Budget Commission to reconsider such a move.
A list of the members of the Joint Budget Committee and additional information about its responsibilities are available on the state’s Web site.