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Governors' Races and Ballot Preview 2011

October 12, 2011

In what is considered typical for an odd-numbered year, only 34 questions have been certified in nine statewide ballots this election year. Some of those measures include redirecting funds to support higher education, revenue enhancements for states, and repealing legislation that limits collective bargaining for public employees.

Ballot Initiatives

Colorado
Voters in Colorado will decide on a measure to increase the state income and sales tax to 5 percent and 3 percent, up from 4.63 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively. Reports estimate the measure would generate about $3 billion to help fund education. The measure is Proposistion 103.

Louisiana
Amendment 1 would re-direct Tobacco Settlement Proceeds to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship program once the balance in the state's Millennium Trust Fund reaches $1.38 billion. The scholarship program is available for state residents who attend public colleges or universities.

Ohio
Issue 2 is a veto referendum on legislation passed earlier this year that limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state. If upheld, SB 5 only would permit public employees to collectively bargain for wages, preventing them from collectively bargaining for health insurance and pensions. It also prohibits public employees from striking and could increase employee contributions for health care and pensions. Gov. John Kasich supports efforts to keep the law in place, citing a need to restore balance to the system and help close the state's budget gap. A "no" vote on issue 2 would repeal the law, while a "yes" vote would keep the law in place.

Texas
Proposition 3 would allow the state to issue general obligation bonds to finance educational loans to students. Supporters of the measure say the program's continued funding is critical given the legislature's recent cuts to educational spending while opponents argue the measure would authorize long-term state debt on a continuing basis and the power to review the need for such funding should be retained by voters on a periodic basis.

Visit http://ballotpedia.org for an overview of all state and local initiatives.

Governors' Races
Three gubernatorial elections will be decided in the states of Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. Incumbent governors Steve Beshear in Kentucky and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana are running for re-election and both are polling with strong support. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is term-limited in 2011.

Both candidates for Mississippi governor have unveiled similar jobs plans focused on supporting small businesses and enhancing the workforce. Republican candidate and current Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has pledged to appoint a regional "Jobs Task Force" and seek out partnerships between community and junior colleges to provide specialized training leading to better employment. The lieutenant governor also would work to advance the state's economic opportunities in the new energy economy, building on recent expansions such as Texas-based KiOR, which received a $75 million incentive package from Mississippi lawmakers last year to build five commercial-scale renewable crude oil production facilities in the state. More information is available at his campaign website.

Democratic nominee and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree said his administration would increase the focus on small business incentives to help existing small businesses expand or franchise, seek to provide tax and other financial incentives for technology-based and green-based jobs created by small businesses, and invest in technological upgrades in rural parts of the state to allow entrepreneurs to create jobs where populations are low. Learn more at: http://www.johnnydupree.com.

Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Texaselections, education