New Williams Institute Study Finds Civil Unions in Colorado Would Boost State Budget by Nearly $5 Million

LOS ANGELES – A new research study released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that allowing same-sex and different-sex couples to enter civil unions in Colorado would boost the state budget by nearly $5 million over three years. This net impact will be the result of savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs, an increase in state license fees, and sales tax revenues.

“Civil unions would provide Colorado’s same-sex and different-sex unmarried couples with some much-needed legal protections. Civil unions would also boost Colorado’s economy from spending on celebrations, and that spending will increase the state’s sales tax revenues,” explains study co-author M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study predicts that 28 percent of Colorado’s 12,558 same-sex couples, or just over 3,500 couples, and 1.5 percent of Colorado’s different-sex unmarried couples, or just over 2,500 couples, will enter civil unions within three years after the legislation is passed.

Most of the boost to the state budget comes from savings on public benefits program expenditures. “Since a partner’s financial assets are taken into account when assessing eligibility for public assistance, the state’s public assistance expenditures will drop,” explains study co-author, Craig Konnoth. “The protections from civil unions might make public assistance less necessary, as well.”

Further, as study co-author Jody Herman notes, “Sales taxes obtained through spending on civil union ceremonies will bring in over $700,000 in tax revenues over three years. Civil union license fees would also add to state revenue gains.”

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers and the public. This study can be accessed at the Williams Institute website, www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute

Media Contact: M.V. Lee Badgett, 310-904-9761, badgett@law.ucla.edu

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