Gov. John Hickenlooper today vetoed SB12-124 because increasing the number of projects approved each year under the Regional Tourism Act decreases the competitiveness of the program and reduces accountability.
"We share the General Assembly's desire to encourage tourism in Colorado, but Senate Bill 12-124 does not accomplish this goal effectively or efficiently," the governor wrote in a letter to the General Assembly.
Under the current Regional Tourism Act (RTA), the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC) can approve up to two projects annually for the next three years with a cap of $50 million in financing. SB12-124 would have expanded the EDC's authority to grant up to six projects in any year. This expansion altered the stated purpose of the original RTA statute approved by the General Assembly in 2009.
The General Assembly stated then that the purpose of the RTA is to provide State support for projects that will "attract significant investment and revenue from outside the state of Colorado." The statute contemplates only viable projects that are so "unique" and "extraordinary" that they will drive economic development and tourism.
The governor wrote in his veto letter any RTA project should bring new tourists from out of state that would not otherwise visit Colorado, or the state's existing venues. "The RTA does not contemplate, however, projects that are likely to serve only the interests of a particular community," Hickenlooper wrote.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission can still award six projects over the next three years.
"We appreciate and share the General Assembly's intent to stimulate tourism in the state," Hickenlooper wrote. "Tourism is essential to Colorado and we are committed to supporting this vital economic driver. We will continue to work with the General Assembly to develop policies to bolster tourism in Colorado."