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Ballot measures affecting state economies face varied results

November 10, 2022
By: Ellen Marrison

Voters across the country faced a number of ballot measures in Tuesday’s election that could in turn affect the innovation economy in their states. Bond issues affecting higher education were approved in New Mexico and Rhode Island, while the vote is still being counted in Arizona, which considered a measure that would allow more aid for non-citizens of the state pursuing higher education. Massachusetts voters narrowly passed the millionaires tax on the ballot there, with education and transportation reaping the increase in revenues, while California voters turned down a similar tax that would have benefitted zero-emission vehicle subsidies and wildfire suppression. The environment was a winner in a New York $4.2 billion bond proposal as was broadband expansion in Alabama. Several states considered changes to the rules affecting their legislators, elections and ballot initiatives with mixed results.   Read more below for a breakdown of results on ballot initiatives that could affect states’ innovation economies.

With 70% of the vote counted in Arizona as of this writing, Proposition 308, relating to the classification of students for tuition purposes and allowing non-citizen students to receive in-state college tuition when they had attended school in the state for at least two years and graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona, was winning by a narrow margin of 50.76% yes to 49.24% no. The proposition would repeal part of a voter-approved initiative from 2006 that prevents non-citizens from receiving that aid.  

New Mexico Bond Question 3, which authorizes $216 million in bonds to finance improvements to higher education facilities, special public schools and tribal schools, was a clear winner with 61.25% of voters approving the issue. And voters in Rhode Island supported Question 1 issuing $100 million in bonds for the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus marine discipline educational and research needs, with 57.51% voting yes.

The “millionaires tax” passed narrowly in Massachusetts, with 51.94% of the vote approving an income tax surcharge of 4% for income over $1 million (on top of the current 5% flat-rate income tax), with revenues dedicated to education and transportation purposes.  A similar tax, Proposition 30 in California, that would have increased the tax on personal income above $2 million by 1.75% failed with 59% of the voters rejecting the proposition. Revenue from the measure, if had it passed, was to be dedicated to zero-emission vehicle subsidies and infrastructure, along with wildfire suppression and prevention programs.

In other tax matters, Colorado Proposition 121 was passed (65.53%) which will decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, including for domestic and foreign C corporations for tax years commencing on or after Jan. 1, 2022.

New York’s Proposal 1 passed with 68% of voters approving issuance of $4.2 billion in bonds for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation.

Alabama Amendment 2 passed with 79% voting yes to authorize the state or local government to grant federal funds to public or private entities to expand or provide for broadband internet infrastructure.

Nevada’s Question 3 to establish open top-five primaries allowing any registered voter to cast a ballot for any candidate regardless of party affiliation and ranked-choice voting for general elections was winning with 51.72% of the vote as of Thursday morning.

Voters in North Dakota approved Constitutional Measure 1 to create term limits for state legislators and the governor with 63.42% voting for the measure. Michigan Proposal 1 to change the term limits for state legislators was approved by 65.78% of the voters. Oregon voters approved (67.87%) excluding state legislators from reelection for unexcused legislative absenteeism.

Arizona Proposition 132, requiring a 60% vote for voters to pass ballot measure to approve taxes was leading with 50.90% supporting the measure as of Thursday morning while votes were still being counted. In Arkansas, Issue 2 requiring a 60% supermajority vote to approve constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives failed with 59.16% of voters rejecting the measure.

Wyoming voters supported (56.93% voting yes) Constitutional Amendment A allowing the state legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities.

On the minimum wage front, Nebraska voters approved (58.76% yes) Initiative 433 incrementally increasing the state’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2026, and adjust it thereafter by the cost of living. Nevada voters were also supporting an increase in the minimum wage for all employees to $12/hour by July 1, 2024, that will also allow the state legislature to pass a minimum wage law setting the rate higher than the constitutionally mandated minimum, with 54.03% of voters passing the amendment. Washington, D.C., voters also approved (74.08%) a minimum wage increase, this one for tipped workers, increasing the amount from $5.35 in 2022 to match the minimum wage of non-tipped employees in 2027.

And finally, West Virginia voters did not support (64.56% voting no) Amendment 2, which would have authorized the state legislature to exempt personal property used for business activity and personal motor vehicle property tax from ad valorem property taxes.

elections, innovation, legislation