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Press Release

Bumper Crop of Ballot Measures Could Signal Major Fiscal Policy Shifts at All Levels, Report Finds

For Immediate Release October 6, 2010
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700

(Alexandria, VA) – Like most elections, voters face many important decisions next month, but a large number of state and local ballot measures this year could have an especially profound impact on tax, spending, and other fiscal policies. Because these vital contests are often drowned out by the din of candidates on the campaign trail, the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has published the 2010 General Election Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer’s Perspective, which analyzes hundreds of ballot questions in over 30 states.

bg     “Sometimes the most important entries on ballots aren’t the names of men and women, but the names and numbers of measures,” NTU State Government Affairs Manager and ballot measure project leader John Stephenson said. “The 2010 General Election Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer’s Perspective not only informs citizens about issues that could affect their states and communities for many years to come, it also identifies trends that help to identify the national mood on fiscal policy. Those trends will live on long after the parties tally their wins and losses.” 

     NTU’s Taxpayer’s Perspective is not just a guide to initiatives on the state and local ballots across the country; additionally, it provides evaluations of how these initiatives may harm local economies, grow the size of government, or pinch families’ pocketbooks even further. However, voters will also be presented with opportunities to exercise a greater degree of control over government tax, spending, and regulatory powers. Examples include:

  • Washington State Initiative 1098 would impose a state-level income tax there for the first time, beginning on individuals with incomes above $200,000 but later possibly extending to other groups at the Legislature’s discretion.  This would knock Washington off the list of just nine states without a broad-based income tax. On the other hand, Washington’s Initiative 1053 would require two-thirds of the Legislature or a majority of voters to raise taxes in the future, while Initative 1107 would roll back taxes on candy, bottled water, and soft drinks.
  • Proposition 23 on the California statewide ballot would suspend the California Global Warming Act, and all of its mandates until unemployment eases. Taxpayer advocates in the state argue that this measure would prevent substantial hikes in energy costs on struggling consumers. Meanwhile, Proposition 25 would do away with a two-thirds legislative vote requirement to pass a budget but Proposition 26 would extend a two-thirds vote stricture on increases in many fees.
  • Voters in “Deep Blue” Massachusetts will consider reducing the state’s sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, as well as repealing in most cases the sales tax on alcoholic beverages.
  • Proposition A on the Missouri statewide ballot would take away the authority for cities to levy an earnings tax, require voter approval for the continuation of earnings taxes where they currently exist, and provide for their eventual phase-out.  
  • In a sign of opposition to the federal health care reform law signed earlier this year, voters in three states – Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma – will decide on proposals affirming individuals’ choices on purchasing insurance or participating in government plans.
  • Coloradans could also significantly reshape state and local finances through three measures to reduce income and other taxes, strengthen property tax limits, and restrict state and local debt.
  • Measures in several states, including Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, would make major changes to their budget structures, such as beefed-up “rainy day fund” reserves.
  • Political ethics issues appear on many election slates, including a recall mechanism for the Governor (Illinois), a 20-year ban on holding office for certain convicted felons (Michigan), and a ban on state elected officials raising their own pay during a current term of office (Louisiana).

     The NTU report also digs deeply into local ballot measure contests, where – besides commonly proposed bond issues and property tax increases – several emerging themes were identified. These include term limits for local officeholders, tax hikes on telecommunications and tourism, and reforms to government worker compensation systems.

     NTU is a non-profit, non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom. Note: 2010 General Election Ballot Guide: The Taxpayer's Prospective is available online at; a follow-on analysis of ballot measure election results will be published after November 2.