2013 General Election Ballot Guide: Choose Your State
The various measures, propositions, initiatives, referenda, proposals, and amendments are listed by state with subheadings for statewide, countywide, and local issues.
Measures that could lower taxes or control government are listed with a positive sign ( + ), measures that could raise taxes or expand government are listed with a negative sign ( – ), and measures where the impact on taxpayers is either unclear or there is significant disagreement about its fiscal effect are listed with a neutral sign ( • ). Measures that simply extend current taxes without increasing burdens are listed without such a marking. An example would be a periodic renewal of a long-standing tax where no rate increase or alteration in the terms of the renewal process is being proposed.
This guide is for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide endorsements or recommendations to voters.
- (-) Proposition AA would impose a 15 percent excise tax and 10 percent sales tax on marijuana, a legal product under Colorado state law, to fund public schools. While NTU takes no position whatsoever on the legalization of drugs, this plan would place additional, heavier tax burdens on products deemed legal by residents of the state.
- (-) Amendment 66 would increase the state income tax on every Coloradan and approximately half a million small businesses in order to raise additional funds for public schools. The current flat income tax rate of 4.63 percent would jump to 5 percent for those making $75,000 or less annually—an 8 percent income tax hike. Coloradans earning more than $75,000 would face a 27 percent income tax hike, with the rate soaring to 5.9 percent. Tax experts agree that the income tax is often a hindrance to economic growth. Many pro-taxpayer organizations, including Coloradans against Unions Using Kids as Pawns, oppose the measure.
- (-) Question 1 would add $14,000,000 of debt in order to maintain and improve projects for the Maine Army National Guard and to purchase additional land for training.
- (-) Question 2 would increase debt by $15,500,000 to pay for statewide University of Maine System classroom renovations.
- (-)Question 3 would extend state debt by $100,000,000 to upgrade the state's transportation systems. The money would be used to match an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds.
- (-) Question 4 would add $4,500,000 of debt to fund a public-private partnership for a new science facility at the Maine Maritime Academy.
- (-)Question 5 would allow for $15,500,000 of debt in order to expand programs on seven campuses of the Maine Community College System.
Note: According to the most recent Tax Foundation statistics, Maine's state-level debt per capita was $4,447 in Fiscal Year 2011, already 12th-highest in the nation.
- (-) Public Question 2 would increase the state minimum wage by nearly 14 percent, from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages fail to raise overall wage levels and reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses will pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers. Organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Business in New Jersey, oppose the measure.
- (•) Proposal 1 would allow casino gambling by authorizing up to seven casinos statewide, thereby increasing school aid and providing local governments the ability to lower property taxes through revenues generated. NTU takes no position on gambling; this measure is included because of its fiscal effects. However, its impact on taxpayers is not clear due to uncertainty over the degree to which local governments would follow through on reducing property taxes.
- (-) Proposal 3 would extend a constitutional provision that permits counties, cities, towns, and villages to exceed debt limits when constructing or reconstructing sewage facilities. According to the most recently available Census Bureau data, local-level debt on a per capita basis is already higher in New York than in any other state.
- (+) Amendment 1 would provide a property tax exemption to spouses of United States military members killed in action.
- (+) Amendment 2 would shrink government by eliminating the state constitution's requirement for the ineffective State Medical Education Board.
- (+) Amendment 3 would extend the current 175-day limit on how long aircraft parts may be located in the state while remaining exempt from tangible property taxation.
- (+) Amendment 4 would give a property tax exemption to partially disabled veterans if the home was donated by a charitable organization.
- (+) Amendment 5 would permit reverse mortgages to be used for homestead purchases, thereby providing financial flexibility for consumers.
- (-) Amendment 6 would tap into the state's Rainy Day Fund to pay for local water projects. Empower Texans, an organization which advocates for fiscal responsibility in the Lone Star State, opposes this amendment.
- (•) Amendment 8 would eliminate the state constitutional provision that authorizes a hospital district in Hidalgo County, which has a 10 cents per $100 of valuation limit on property taxes. Since the purpose of this measure is to clear the way for a new district with more taxing authority, Hidalgo County residents could face heavier property taxes at a later point. However, Amendment 8 itself does not mandate or require a higher tax.
- (+) Initiative 517 would strengthen Washington's initiative and referendum process by extending signature collection time and ensuring that measures with sufficient signatures appear on the ballot. The measure would also set penalties for harassing petition organizers and limit pre-election litigation.
- (-) Initiative 522 would require the labeling of food that has been genetically modified in certain ways. After a similar measure failed in California last year, supporters decided to take aim at Washington. Local chambers of commerce and family farmers oppose this measure, in part because of the regulations on business that would significantly disrupt commerce in the State.
Local Ballot Highlights
- (-) Proposition 401 would allow the city to increase annual spending by $50 million. The measure would undo a longstanding cap that was implemented to slow city spending growth. While Prop 401 does not include a tax increase, it could encourage future hikes.
Corte Madera, CA
- (-) Measure B would raise the local sales tax rate by 0.5 percentage points, for a combined state and local sales tax burden of 9.0 percent.
- (-) Measure C would raise the local sales tax rate by 0.5 percentage points, for a combined state and local sales tax burden of 9.0 percent.
Mesa Park District, CA
- (-) Measure I would create 4-year, $49 annual improved parcel tax to maintain Mesa Park.
San Anselmo, CA
- (-) Measure D would raise the local sales tax rate by 0.5 percentage points, for a combined state and local sales tax burden of 9.0 percent.
San Rafael, CA
- (-) A measure would raise the local sales tax rate by 0.25 percentage points, for a combined state and local sales tax burden of 9.25 percent.
Scotts Valley, CA
- (-) Measure U would raise the local sales tax rate by 0.5 percentage points, for a combined state and local sales tax burden of 8.75 percent. The estimated annual revenue impact is $1.2 million.
- (-) Ballot Issue 2F would establish a $5 charge on retail and wholesale marijuana transactions. While NTU takes no position whatsoever on the legalization of drugs, this plan would place additional, heavier tax burdens on products deemed legal by residents of the state.
Red Cliff, CO
- (-) The Marijuana Sales and Excise Tax Question would institute a levy of up to 5 percent for retail transactions involving the product and 15 percent excise tax on wholesale transactions. While NTU takes no position whatsoever on the legalization of drugs, this plan would place additional, heavier tax burdens on products deemed legal by residents of the state.
- (-) Ballot Issue 2A would implement a 1 cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other "sugary" drinks in the town of Telluride. Critics of soda taxes often point out their regressive nature and the fact that they can hurt small businesses. Two similar measures were resoundingly defeated in Richmond and El Monte, California last November.
- (+) Voters in Hialeah, Florida will decide on a pension reform referendum question that would eliminate pensions for future elected officials starting in January 2014. The measure would also require that any change to the elected officials' pension fund be approved by taxpayers. Currently, a Council Member receives a pension after age 55 if he or she has served at least 12 years. Mayor Carlos Hernandez is set to receive $190,000 annually once he leaves his post.
Ralls County, MO
- (-) Ralls County voters will decide on a 0.5 percent sales tax hike to fund the Ralls County 911 center. The rate would jump from 6.725 to 7.225 percent in Monroe City and Van Far Ambulance Districts and from 6.225 to 6.725 percent in the rest of the county.
Taney County, MO
- (-) The 911 Services Sales Tax Proposal would remove the local tax on landline phones and increase the local sales tax rate by 0.25 percent to fund emergency 911 activities and the proposed $4 million 911 communication center. The combined state and local sales tax rate would jump from 7.1 to 7.35 percent in the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District and from 6.1 to 6.35 percent in the rest of the county. The measure is intended to raise more revenue than the tax it replaces.
- (+) Amendment Initiative, Issue 4 would enroll new city employees in a defined contribution retirement plan, rather than the current defined benefit plan. The amendment would also put in place contribution caps for the city, keep cost of living adjustments honest, and ensure that city employees do not receive paychecks and retirement checks at the same time. In June of this year, Ohio Auditor David Yost sent a letter to the city, detailing the $862 million unfunded pension liability. Shortly after, on July 15, Moody’s downgraded the City of Seven Hills’ general obligation bonds due to “budgetary pressure” from pension contributions. Local supporters of this measure view it as an important first step in addressing these unfunded liabilities.
Plain City, OH
- (-) A local referendum proposes to create a new 0.25 percent income tax to fund police department operations, maintenance, and capital improvements.
Rocky River, OH
- (-) Issue 58 would hike the city's income tax from 1.5 to 2 percent and increase the credit from 1 to 1.5 percent. This is a projected $2.1 million tax increase. It would be a $500 annual tax increase for an individual who earns $100,000 per year of taxable income. Of the major types of taxes, experts agree that the income tax has the most significant negative impact on economic growth.
Sheffield Lake, OH
- (-) Issue 18 would increase the income tax from 1.5 to 2 percent for city residents. Of the major types of taxes, experts agree that the income tax has the most significant negative impact on economic growth.
- (-) The Sales and Use Tax Referendum proposes to extend for an extra 7 years beyond 2014 a "temporary" 1 percent sales tax increase passed in 2006 to widen area roads. Those projects, underwritten by the original 2006 tax, remain unfinished. The referendum would authorize $125 million in bonds for various additional projects, but if sales tax proceeds fall short of projections, ad valorem taxes would have to cover the difference.
- (-) The Memphis Sales Tax Referendum would increase the combined sales tax rate from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent, in order to fund pre-K expansion. This is an estimated $47 million a year sales tax hike.
- (+) Proposition 5 would restrict revenue of the city Power Department and Power Fund to be used only for that Department. If revenues exceed operating costs for the Power Department, those extra collections would be returned to the customers. Prop 5 would provide transparency by barring the local government from spending those proceeds on items unrelated to the power company.
- (-) The so-called "cop tax" measure would boost the combined sales tax rate from 8.3 percent to 8.4 percent, in order to pay for increasing costs of "sheriff's protection." The estimated annual revenue impact is $110,000.
- (-) Proposition 1 would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for airport and hospitality workers in the city of SeaTac. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages fail to raise overall wage levels and reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses will pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.