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State Tech-based ED Measures Pass, Fail in 2002 General Election

November 08, 2002

Some of the 200-plus ballot measures decided in the 2002 General Election held Tuesday were dedicated to promoting tech-based economic development (TBED). The results were generally mixed, however. Promoters of Michigan's Life Sciences Corridor were pleased with the failure of an initiative that would have dictated the allocation of the state's tobacco settlement funds, including a smaller amount than the state is currently spending on life sciences research. However, the stock  market's decline over the last two years may have played a role in voters' rejection of several investment-related measures. Below, SSTI highlights some of the TBED- and university-related measures and initiatives that were addressed by voters in a dozen states.

Those that passed include the following:

  • Arizona voters passed Proposition 104, which exempts from aggregate state spending limits the revenue derived from a sales tax rate increase for education approved by voters in 2000.
  • Voters in California gave way to Proposition 47, a measure allowing the state to issue $13.05 billion of general obligation bonds toward construction and renovation of education facilities. The measure reserves $1.65 billion of that total for college campuses. The Governor and Legislature would choose the specific projects to be funded by the bond dollars.
  • In Florida, Constitutional Amendment 11 restructures governance of the state's institutions of higher education. The amendment provides a local 13-member board of trustees to administer each of the state's public universities and a 17-member governing board to oversee the entire university system to prevent wasteful duplication of facilities or programs. In addition, the measure provides procedures for selecting board members, including a student and faculty representative for each board.
  • In Georgia, Constitutional Amendment 3 will allow counties and municipalities to create redevelopment tax incentive programs for blighted property. Under the programs, properties in blighted condition will be subject to increased taxes, and formerly blighted property will benefit from decreased tax burdens.
  • A majority of voters in Virginia answered yes to Question 1, allowing the Commonwealth the right to sell up to $900.5 million in bonds to pay for capital projects at public institutions of higher education, museums and other educational facilities. Such projects may include renovation of instructional facilities and construction of new research space. And,
  • Voters in West Virginia approved Amendment 1, which permits the State Legislature to authorize county commissions and municipalities to create a new economic development measure for creating jobs. With the amendment's passage, county commissions and municipalities may redirect specific new property tax revenues from approved projects or project areas to help finance development or redevelopment projects.

The following measures failed to sway enough voters for passage:

  • In Louisiana, a constitutional amendment designed to give public higher education institutions the flexibility to invest in stocks failed by a narrow margin. Receiving 49 percent of the vote, Amendment 8 would have allowed colleges and universities or their management boards to invest up to 50 percent of gifts and grants, endowments and other permanent funds in stocks. The state's public colleges are not permitted to make such investments.
  • Michigan voters denied passage of Proposal 02-4, a constitutional amendment that would have reallocated 90 percent (approx. $297 million) of tobacco settlement revenue toward health care related purposes. Approximately 73 percent ($215.7 million) of the revenue presently is appropriated for merit-based scholarships for the state's college students, while approximately $50 million each year supports the state's life science initiative.
  • Additional funding for life science research in Missouri took a hit as Proposition A, a measure for implementing a tax of 2.75 cents per cigarette (55 cents per pack) and 20 percent on other tobacco products, failed to pass. The revenues would have expanded the states support for biomedical/biotech research, among other purposes.
  • In Montana, a constitutional amendment that would have permitted additional funds, including those from the permanent public school trust and the university system, to be invested in private corporate capital stock failed.
  • In North Dakota, voters turned down Measure 3, an initiative to establish a program that would provide brief reimbursement of student loan payments. Supporters had hoped the "anti-brain drain" measure would help entice younger college graduates to remain in the state after school. Under the program's terms, residents under 30 years old who graduated from accredited post-secondary schools would have been eligible for $1,000 per year for up to five years. And,
  • In Oregon, the people voted against Ballot Measure 18, which would have allowed or expanded the potential to create geographic areas or zones with lower taxes.

More information on the 2002 General Election, including a searchable state listing of all ballot measures and legislative races, is available at http://www.ncsl.org.