Colorado’s new Marijuana Enforcement Division has a sustainable and predictable financing plan thanks to La Follette School alum Dorinda Floyd.
As chief financial officer for Colorado’s Department of Revenue, the 1988 grad served on the governor’s Marijuana Task Force that proposed a regulatory and taxation structure for retail marijuana after voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2012 to allow the sale and use of marijuana by people 21 years and older.
“I was appointed to serve on the Tax/Funding and Civil Law Working Group with an objective to address the taxation of retail marijuana and the funding of the Marijuana Enforcement Division,” Floyd says. “I developed a financing plan for the division that ensures the division has sufficient resources to provide adequate oversight and enforcement of marijuana businesses to prevent product diversion, illegal use, and the appropriate application and collection of excise and sales taxes on marijuana sold.”
The working group and the task force adopted all aspects of Floyd’s financing plan, which was incorporated in legislation introduced in 2013. “Additionally, the working group and task force adopted a taxation structure for retail marijuana that was adopted by the Task Force and passed by the state’s general assembly,” Floyd says. “Our work became Proposition AA that voters approved in November 2013 to establish a 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on retail marijuana.”
As the Department of Revenue’s CFO, Floyd oversees financial operations, including budgeting, accounting, purchasing and contract management, financial planning and management, and policy and program analyses. “These functions support the department’s diverse operations, including taxation, motor vehicles, marijuana, gaming, liquor and tobacco and the lottery,” Floyd says. “I manage 55 professional staff in the Office of Budget and Financial Services, and I am responsible for an annual operating budget totaling $300 million, the collection of $12 billion in revenue and the distribution of $2.1 billion to other units of government.”
Floyd notes she used the quantitative skills she gained at La Follette early in her career when conducting budget and policy analyses. Now she applies them when reviewing work by her staff or consultants hired to study specific policy issues. “The ability to critique research methodologies and resulting recommendations or conclusions is critical to finding the most effective solutions,” Floyd says. “Any student interested in pursuing a career in public administration should consider the La Follette School for a broad-based education that encourages critical thinking and supports progressive ideas and solutions to today’s challenging public policy issues.”
Implementation of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is a highlight of Floyd’s 25 years of public service, she says. “I thoroughly enjoy working on behalf of the public to find the best solutions to oftentimes very complex public policy issues,” Floyd says. “Most of my career has focused on budgeting and financial management. I take great pride in finding cost-efficient and effective solutions while maintaining transparency and accountability to the public during times of scarce resources.”
Floyd attributes part of her success to her training at what had just become the La Follette Institute of Public Affairs a few years before she enrolled. “While at La Follette I learned to think critically and develop excellent analytical skills,” Floyd says. “Because I was required to write a number of research papers, I developed sound written communication skills that allowed me to communicate complex public policy and financial issues effectively to diverse audiences.”
Floyd joined the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau after she graduated in 1988. “I have always been interested in budgeting and public policy analysis,” Floyd says. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau was a great learning experience as I was exposed to both budgeting and policy analysis. Also, I had a great mentor in director Bob Lang.”
In 1990, Floyd moved to Milwaukee and spent 18 years with the city, starting as a budget and management special assistant, then serving as legislative fiscal manager, and then as administrative services director for eight years. “I thought I would like local government the least, but I ended up liking it the most,” Floyd says. “It is extremely rewarding to see firsthand the impact on the public of decisions that I was intimately involved in. It also exposes you to the failures, which can be a great learning experience.”
In Milwaukee, Floyd applied her fiscal and management skills by serving on several nonprofit boards. “I was the City of Milwaukee’s representative on the Social Development Commission Board, which is a community action agency,” Floyd says. “I served for six years, and I was elected treasurer, and I chaired the budget and finance committee. I also served on the board of directors for the Milwaukee Ballet and was a member of the Milwaukee Forum.”
Floyd also consulted for six months in 1996 for the Municipal Finance and Management Project in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, for the U.S. Agency for International Development. “I served six months on the project to increase local government management capacities through improved financial management, frame future development to encompass finance mechanisms and an implementing authority, promote market-based economic growth and encourage development of democratic processes,” Floyd says.
In 2008, Floyd moved to Colorado, where her husband, Daniel Alexander, is the federal disaster recovery coordinator for Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 8. She became CFO for the Colorado Department of Revenue in 2009.
“Throughout my 25-year career in the public sector, I worked for both the executive and legislative branches of government,” says Floyd. “My education at the La Follette Institute prepared me to serve successfully and work collaboratively with diverse groups of people to resolve complex social problems and develop good public policy.”