A Democrat state lawmaker and a group of health care advocates in Denver are looking to add a .25 percent sales tax increase that would help raise money for mental health care and substance abuse treatment within the city of Denver. The health care advocates claim the city is lacking when it comes to funding these type of programs.
The sales tax increase is expected to generate $45 million in its first year and it will continue for ten more years. The current sales tax rate in Denver is eight percent for food and beverage purchases and 7.65 percent for all other purchases. If the measure does pass, along with another proposed sales tax increase that would help pay for transportation, the new sales tax rate in Denver would be at about nine percent.
The initiative is called "Caring for Denver" and would need more than 4,700 signature in order to reach the ballot. Backers of the tax increase say it is a necessary tax that would help create a better way for those struggling in Denver and will also help promote well-being. "People who know they need help can't get it," said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.
Colorado's largest treatment provider for drug and alcohol addiction, the Arapahoe House, closed its doors back in January. Backers believe that mental health care and substance abuse treatment in the Denver metro area has significantly diminished since the closure of the treatment provider, and the new tax will help turn it back around.Voters in Denver have only rejected one tax increase in recent years. In 2015, voters turned down an eight cents per $100 hike that would have helped fund college scholarships. If the signatures are reached, the proposed sales tax increase would show up on a November ballot for vote.