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Voters mostly supporting education and redistricting initiatives, mixed on energy

November 08, 2018

SSTI has reviewed the results of ballot initiatives affecting innovation following Tuesday’s election. Higher education funding received support from voters in Maine, Montana, New Jersey and Rhode Island; however, a South Dakota measure aimed specifically at developing a fund to assist the state's postsecondary technical institutes and students was defeated. Additionally, Utah voters opposed using gas taxes to fund its schools. Several states had clean energy initiatives on their ballots, with mixed results. Arizona voters rejected a renewable energy amendment, while its neighbor, Nevada, saw voters pass one, and Washington state voters once again rejected a carbon emissions initiative.

Voters approved ballot issues addressing redistricting in three states (Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri) and as of press time a redistricting proposition was narrowly leading in Utah, all of which could have a significant impact on state legislative and congressional makeup when lines are redrawn after the 2020 census.  Florida voters approved an amendment requiring approval of two-thirds of the state's legislature in order to implement new or increase existing taxes or fees, while Oregon voters rejected a similar measure requiring three-fifths super-majority to raise or increase revenues and taxes. Voters in two states, Arkansas and Missouri, supported raising the states' minimum wages. Three states, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, all saw voter approval of Medicaid expansion.


Arizona's Proposition 127: 50 Percent Renewable Energy Standard by 2030 Amendment, which would have required that electric utilities acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 was defeated by the voters with 69.8 percent voting against it and 30.2 percent voting in favor of it.  


Colorado's Amendment Y: Colorado Commission for Congressional Redistricting Amendment, which will create a 12-member commission to draw congressional districts for Colorado, along with Amendment Z: Colorado Commission for Legislative Redistricting Amendment, which also creates a 12-member commission to draw legislative districts for Colorado was approved by voters. Amendment Y passed with 71 percent of the vote, while Amendment Z was passed with 70.8 percent of the vote.

Voters were opposed to creating what was known as the Quality Public Education Fund, and voted against Amendment 73: Increase and Creation of Graduated Taxes on Incomes above $150,000 and Increase in Corporate Taxes to Fund Public Schools Initiative.  The amendment would have changed the state constitution to replace Colorado's flat income tax by creating a graduated income tax, and increasing income taxes on incomes above $150,000. It also would have increased the corporate income tax by 1.37 percent. More than 55 percent voted against the amendment with a little over 44 percent voting for it.


Voters approved a suite of initiatives to restrict future taxes and fees. Passed issues include: Amendment 5: Requires 2/3 Vote of Legislature to Impose or Increase Tax or Fee; Amendment 2: Makes the Cap on Non-homestead Parcel Assessment Increases Permanent; Amendment 3: Requires Voter Approval of Casino Gambling; and, Amendment 7: Requires… a Supermajority Vote for College Fees. With these policies now in place, Florida will likely face significant obstacles to raising revenues for any emerging budget deficits or priorities.


Maine voters supported both of their higher education bond issues. Question 4 authorizes $49 million in general obligation bonds for the construction and remodeling of existing and new facilities within the University of Maine System. Question 5, which received overwhelming support, authorizes $15 million in general obligation bonds for the renovation and expansion of instructional laboratories, information technology infrastructure, and heating and ventilating systems at Maine's seven community colleges.


Voters overwhelmingly approved Question 1: Gambling Revenue Dedicated to Education Lockbox Amendment, which will increase the contribution of Maryland’s gambling revenues to education to 100 percent by 2023.


Voters overwhelmingly approved Michigan Proposal 2, also known as the Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative, which will transfer the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a new, 13-member, independent redistricting commission.


The state's voters supported Missouri's Amendment 1: Reforms to Lobbying, Campaign Finance, Public Records, and Redistricting Amendment, which would reform lobbying, campaign finance, redistricting, and public records. Sixty-two percent voted in favor, while 38 percent voted against it.


Legislative Referendum 128: Property Tax for State University System Measure would continue a six-mill property tax to fund the Montana University System for 10 years. The measure was overwhelmingly supported by Montana voters; over 61.3 percent voted yes to continue the property tax with 38.7 percent voting against it.


Voters were in favor of the state's Question 6: 50 Percent Renewable Energy Standard by 2030 Amendment requiring that electric utilities acquire 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030. A little less than 60 percent (59.3) of voters approved Question 6 with 40.7 percent opposed to it.

New Jersey

New Jersey Public Question 1, also known as the School Projects Bond or the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, was approved by voters, with 52 percent of ballots in favor of the measure. The act authorizes the issuance $500 million in general obligation bonds to support school infrastructure and career and technical education.

New Mexico

Voters approved New Mexico's Bond Measure 6: Higher Education, Special Schools, and Tribal School Bond authorizing the issuance of $128.4 million in bonds for higher education, special schools, and tribal schools. The measure passed with 65.77 percent of the vote, while 34.23 percent were against it.

North Carolina

North Carolinians voted to approve four ballot initiatives including the Income Tax Cap Amendment and the Voter ID Amendment. With approximately 57 percent of the vote, the Income Tax Cap Amendment will lower the cap on the state’s income tax from 10 percent to 7 percent.  Voters also approved the Voter ID Amendment with approximately 56 percent of the vote. It will require individuals to show photographic identification to a poll-worker before they can vote in person. The ID requirement does not apply to absentee voting.


Oklahoma's State Question 800: Oil and Gas Tax Revenue Investment Amendment (The Oklahoma Vision Fund) would have created a budget stabilization fund to protect core services without raising taxes by setting aside 5 percent of the state's oil and gas revenue into the Oklahoma Vision Fund (OVF). Voters defeated the measure, proposed as part of OK2030 – a strategic vision plan by the State Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma Research Foundation to improve the state's business climate, workforce, quality of life, fiscal stability and innovation. Fifty-seven percent of Oklahomans voted against the measure, with 42 percent voting in its favor. 


Oregon's three-fifths super-majority vote requirement (Measure 104) in order to increase any taxes or increases in revenue was defeated by voters.  Sixty-five percent were opposed to the measure, with 35 percent in favor of it.

Rhode Island

Question 1 received more than 75 percent of the vote and will authorize $250 million in bonds over five years, with no more than $100 million issued in any one year, to fund school improvements. It will leverage more money for districts to earn bonuses for projects that enhance science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Question 2 authorizing $70 million in bonds for higher education also passed. And Question 3, titled “Green Economy and Clean Water” authorizing $47.3 million in bonds for environmental and recreational purposes received the greatest amount of voter support with more than 78 percent of the voters approving the measure.

South Dakota

South Dakota's Initiated Measure 25, which would have increased the excise tax on cigarettes and used the revenues generated to create a postsecondary technical institute fund for the purposes of lowering student tuition and providing financial support to South Dakota postsecondary technical institutes was defeated by South Dakota voters, with 55.1 percent opposed to the measure.


As of press time, Utah's Proposition 4: Congressional and Legislative Redistricting Commission Initiative, was passing narrowly with votes still being tallied. Prop 4 would establish a commission to draw both congressional and legislative districts in the redistricting process.


Voters, once again, defeated Washington's second attempt at a carbon tax, Initiative 1631: Fee on Carbon Emissions Initiative.  Fifty-six percent of voters were against the measure, while 43 percent favored it. According to the Seattle Times, while there are still many outstanding ballots to be tallied, it was not believed that measure would receive enough votes to change the outcome.  Supporters of I-1631 were not ready to concede, and according to the Times, proponents were looking ahead to both introducing and passing a bill in the state's next legislative session.

elections, state tbed