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Ballot Guide 

2014 General Election Ballot Guide: THE TAXPAYER’S PERSPECTIVE

by Lee Schalk / /

On November 4, voters from all across the country will head to the ballot box to decide which party will control the United State Senate and to determine the outcomes of tight gubernatorial races. While these contests may steal most of the headlines, taxpayers should also pay close attention to the various measures that will appear on their ballots. The outcomes of propositions, initiatives, referenda, proposals, and constitutional amendments in 33 states could have an enormous impact on government growth, economic vitality, and job creation — not to mention taxpayers’ wallets.

For example, one of the most significant measures this year will be found on the Nevada ballot. Question 3 would impose a 2 percent margin tax on businesses that generate at least $1 million in revenue. Studies have shown that it could result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

In California and New York voters will decide the fates of proposals that would issue billions of dollars of new debt. California’s Proposition 1 would add $7.12 billion to the taxpayers’ tab to fund water infrastructure projects, while New York’s Proposal 3 would add $2 billion in debt to update public school technology.

On the other hand, passage of income tax protections in Georgia and Tennessee would benefit taxpayers. In Georgia, Amendment A would stop state lawmakers from increasing the Peach State’s top income tax rate, while Amendment 3 in Tennessee would strengthen the state’s 0 percent wage tax rate by adding an income tax ban to the state constitution.

Taxpayers in Massachusetts have an opportunity to roll back an unpopular gas tax hike. Question 1 would eliminate a law passed last year that indexed the gas tax to inflation, allowing it to automatically increase each year. Voters in the state currently pay 26.5 cents per gallon of gas.

Once again, Americans will decide on thousands of local ballot measures that will affect their pocketbooks. In fact, some of the most significant measures appear on local election slates – from soda tax and minimum wage increases to local income tax hikes and pension reform. While we strove to make this a comprehensive guide to statewide measures dealing with fiscal policy, at the local level we provide additional highlights of proposals that capture the breadth and depth of the fiscal matters citizens will decide in cities, counties, school districts, and towns across the country. Many local measures do not appear here because sufficient information to merit inclusion was not available; others were omitted because we could not identify an immediate or significant impact on budgets or taxes.

Finally, although NTU’s research team made every effort to identify measures of importance to taxpayers throughout the country, it is impossible to ensure that every jurisdiction’s election slate is completely reported on here. In some cases, election authorities may have made late decisions concerning their ballots that could not be reflected in this guide. For all of these reasons, taxpayers are urged to check with their local election agency for additional information.

 

Guide Key:

The various measures, propositions, initiatives, referenda, proposals, and amendments are listed by state with subheadings for statewide and local issues.

Measures that could lower taxes or control government are listed with a plus sign ( + ), and measures that could raise taxes or expand government are listed with a minus sign ( – ). Measures that simply continue current taxes without increasing burdens and measures with an unclear impact on taxes and spending are listed with the following marking: (.).

This guide is for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide endorsements or recommendations to voters.

 

Find Your State:

AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColorado
FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisLouisiana
MaineMarylandMassachussetsMissouriNebraskaNevada
New JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth DakotaOhioOregon
OklahomaRhode IslandSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasVirginia
TexasVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsin 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Alabama

Statewide measures

  • (-) If approved, Amendment 2 would authorize $50 million in new state debt to fund Alabama National Guard facilities.
  • (+) If passed, Amendment 4 would require a two-thirds vote by the Alabama Legislature to enact a local school spending increase of $50,000 or more. Currently, the Legislature only needs a 50 percent vote to enact such spending increases. The 50 percent threshold would still be in place for spending related to school salaries and benefits.

 

Alaska

Statewide measures

  • (-) Ballot Measure 3 would increase the Alaska hourly minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 in 2015 and to $9.75 in 2016. The measure would continuously raise the state minimum wage with inflation or raise the minimum wage $1 above the federal minimum. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.
  • (-) Ballot Measure 4 would ban mining projects deemed by lawmakers to be harmful to wild salmon in Bristol Bay. The Alaska Miners Association opposes this measure, arguing that it could disrupt investment and development, hurting the state economy.

Local measures

Anchorage

  • (+) Proposition 1 would keep in place the Responsible Labor Act, which aims to grant local taxpayers greater control over local spending on government employees. The law helped to constrain labor costs by limiting employee raises and some bonuses. 

 

Arizona

Statewide measures

  • (+) Proposition 122 would increase state and local sovereignty in Arizona by allowing the State Legislature to reject federal laws or actions that Arizona taxpayers or the State Legislature deem unconstitutional. The measure would also ensure that state and local tax dollars are only used for purposes consistent with the U.S.  Constitution.
  • (+) Proposition 303 would allow certain drugs that have not yet been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used by terminally ill patients. The Goldwater Institute supports this measure, explaining that, “To access these treatments, patients must either go through a lengthy FDA exemption process or
    wait for the treatments to receive FDA approval, which can take a decade or more and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”
  • (-) Proposition 304 would increase state legislator salaries from $24,000 to $35,000 per year – a nearly 46 percent
    pay increase. Raising lawmakers’ salaries would result in additional costs to taxpayers at a time when the state is projected to have a $282 million budget shortfall.

Local measures

Phoenix

  • (+) Proposition 487, if passed, would change the Phoenix public employee retirement system from a defined benefit to a defined contribution structure. It would also limit pension benefits for current employees. Recent studies found that Phoenix’s pension system has unfunded liabilities totaling $1.5 billion. The Citizens for Pension Reform Committee estimates that this measure would save taxpayers at least $400 million.

 

Arkansas

Statewide measures

  • (+) Issue 1 would require that rules proposed by administrative agencies be approved by the State Legislature before taking effect. This would provide a check on the power of the executive branch and subject regulations to additional scrutiny.
  • (-) Issue 2, if passed, would establish an initial minimum threshold requirement that activists must meet if they wish to have extra time to continue collecting the signatures necessary to placing a measure on the state ballot. Issue 2 would set that threshold at 75 percent. The measure is opposed by the Arkansas chapters of the ACLU and the Family Council because they feel it would create an additional obstacle to successfully placing a measure on the state ballot.
  • (-) Issue 3 would allow an individual to serve in the state House and Senate for an extended period of time. Right now, Arkansas lawmakers may serve 6 years in the state House or 8 years in the state Senate. Issue 3 would allow for a total of 16 years. It would also create a seven-member commission to determine elected officials’ salaries, limit lobbying by former legislators, and limit donations and gifts from lobbyists. While ethics reform is an important issue, citizen groups in Arkansas as well as national organizations such as U.S. Term Limits are concerned about the potential effects of weakening caps on legislative service.
  • (+) Issue 4 would permit statewide liquor sales, eliminating outdated local “dry county” policies. Supporters of the measure say it would have a beneficial effect on commerce while expanding consumer freedom.
  • (-) Issue 5 would raise the state hourly minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 by 2017. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers. The measure is opposed by the Arkansas Hospitality Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, among others.

 

California

Statewide measures

 
  • (-) Proposition 1 would increase state debt by $7.12 billion to finance water system infrastructure projects. Citizen groups in the state have expressed concern about the financial impact of this measure on a state already struggling with hundreds of billions of dollars in debt.
  • (+) Proposition 2 would require that at least 3 percent of General Fund revenues be set aside for a rainy day fund, and would provide safeguards making it harder for lawmakers to raid that fund. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the largest pro-taxpayer citizen group in the Golden State, is urging a “Yes” vote on this measure.
  • (-) Proposition 45 would require insurance rate changes be approved by the Insurance Commissioner, and accompanied by a sworn statement by the health insurer as to the accuracy of information and justification for the change. Employer large group health plans would be exempt except for when the rate increase is over ten percent. If passed, insurance companies would not be permitted to use a customer’s poor credit rating to deny health, car, or home insurance. Some Californians have expressed concern that this measure would impose additional, detrimental regulations on health insurance.
  • (-) Proposition 46, if passed, would result in higher medical tort costs by increasing the amount of money patients can collect from doctors in a negligence lawsuit from $250,000 to $1 million. This measure is also opposed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the largest pro-taxpayer group in California.

Local measures

Berkeley

  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure D, which would implement a 1 cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other “sugary” drinks. Critics of soda taxes often point out their regressive nature and the fact that they can hurt small retailers. Similar measures were overwhelmingly defeated in Telluride, Colorado in 2013 and in Richmond and El Monte, California in 2012.
  • (-) Measure P, if passed, would voice opposition to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that protected free speech by affirming the right to spend money on political campaigns.

Eureka

  • (-) Measure R would raise the hourly minimum wage for employees of businesses larger than 25 people from the state rate of $8 to $12 per hour. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.

Fortuna

  • (-) Measure V would increase the sales tax by 1 percent to fund a plethora of local services, including 911 emergency response, sidewalks, a local rodeo, and a car show that includes a burn-out contest.

Fresno

  • (.) Measure Z would renew a 10-year, 0.1 percent sales tax hike to pay for upgrades and maintenance to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. In the past decade this tax amounted to a $102 million tax increase. Local activist and Chair of No on Measure Z, Joan LeRoux, recently wrote that the measure has “a 10-year history of a lack of transparency, inordinate cost overruns on capital projects and payroll, closed-door bidding, lack of oversight and millions of dollars sent to Sacramento.”

Guadalupe

  • (-) Measure W would create a new tax on the gross revenues of local businesses at a 0.05 percent rate. This is estimated as a $150,000 yearly tax hike.

Hollister

  • (-) Measure L would increase the local hotel tax to 12 percent.

Humboldt County

  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure P, which would ban the “propagation, cultivation, raising, and growing of genetically modified organisms” in the county. Local chambers of commerce and family farmers oppose this measure, in part because these regulations would significantly disrupt commerce in the State.
  • (-) Measure Z would impose a 5-year sales tax increase of 0.5 percent to pay for a variety of government services including police patrols and marijuana grow house prevention.

Lake County

  • (-) Voters in Lake County will decide on Measure S, the “Healthy Lake Tax.” This would raise $24 million annually by increasing the sales tax by 0.5 percent for 10 years to eradicate weeds and improve water quality around Clear Lake. A local taxpayer advocate has pointed out that the county has not been a good steward of prioritizing tax dollars in recent years, spending $3.3 million from the general fund on a hotel and $377,000 on a skate park. A similar proposal was defeated by voters in June.

Livermore

  • (+) Voters in Livermore, CA will decide on Measure W, which would limit annual compensation increases for the mayor and council members to five percent or to the Consumer Price Index, depending on which is less.
  • (+) Measure X would protect Livermore taxpayers by prohibiting the city from paying for health benefits for the mayor and city council members.

Mendocino County

  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure S, which would ban the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Mendocino County.

Menlo Park

  • (-) Measure M would place strict limitations on the development of commercial and residential property in Menlo Park. An independent study of the proposal found that it could result in higher rents and less affordable housing.

Oakland

  • (-) Measure Z would increase parcel taxes and renew an 8.5 percent parking tax for ten years.
  • (-) Measure FF would increase the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour while mandating that businesses provide sick days as a benefit to employees. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.

Petaluma

  • (-) Measure Q would increase the local sales tax by 1 percent to increase the Petaluma General Fund. Like many local sales tax hikes, this is not a “temporary” increase. Additionally, it would be layered on top of a county-wide sales tax hike to fund the local library.

San Benito County

  • (-) Measure I would raise the county hotel tax by $1.3 million over the next ten years by increasing the rate from 8 to 12 percent.
  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure J, which would ban the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in San Benito County.

San Francisco

  • (-) Voters will decide Proposition E, which would place a 2 cent-per-ounce tax on soda and other “sugary” drinks. Critics of soda taxes often point out their regressive nature and the fact that they can hurt small retailers. Similar measures were overwhelmingly defeated in Telluride, CO in 2013 and in Richmond and El Monte, CA in 2012.
  • (-) San Franciscans will also decide on Proposition J, which would increase the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2018. The current minimum wage in the city is $10.74 per hour. While there are other minimum wage increase measures on local ballots throughout the Golden State, San Francisco’s measure proposes the highest hourly wage. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.
  • (-) Proposition K would deem it official city policy to increase local spending on affordable housing and guarantee that the city builds or repairs at least 30,000 low-income residences. However, if passed, this advisory measure would not have the force of law.

Santa Barbara County

  • (-) Measure O would raise the local hotel tax by nearly $2 million per year by increasing the rate from 10 to 12.5 percent.
  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure P, which would ban the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Santa Barbara County.

Shasta Lake

  • (-) Voters will decide on Measure C, a 6 to 10 percent margins tax on medical marijuana vendors. The tax rate would be decided upon by the City Council. While NTU takes no position on the legalization of marijuana, this plan would result in additional, heavier tax burdens on what has been deemed a legal product.

Sonoma County

  • (-) Measure M would raise the sales tax by more than $10 million per year to increase the local library budget. The local sales tax rate would increase by 0.125 percentage points for 10 years.

 

Colorado

Statewide measures

  • (+) Proposition 104 would shed light on school collective bargaining agreements by opening meetings to the public. This would give taxpayers more oversight over how their tax dollars are spent.
  • (-) Proposition 105 would require the labeling of food that has been genetically modified in certain ways. After similar measures failed in California in 2012 and in Washington last year, supporters decided to take aim at Colorado. Local chambers of commerce and family farmers oppose this measure, in part because these regulations would significantly disrupt commerce in the State.

 

Florida

Statewide measures

  • (-) Amendment 1 would direct 33 percent of excise taxes on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, which would allow the state to purchase more land, even though it already owns roughly 30 percent of Florida acreage. This land requires taxpayer funds to maintain. Some taxpayers and citizen groups oppose this measure because they believe current laws and regulations are sufficient for the state to protect the environment. Additionally, some have argued that Amendment 1 would place undue restrictions on the use of tax revenue. According to Florida TaxWatch, “Regardless of the merits of either argument on this issue, this is a policy decision that does not belong embedded in ‘constitutional concrete’ in the Florida Constitution.”

Local measures

City of Miami Beach

  • (-) Voters will decide on a measure that would require a public hearing following the adoption of collective bargaining agreements. The hearings would include presentations by the City Manager detailing fiscal impact of “fringe benefits” like pension and health insurance plans.

 

Georgia

Statewide measures

  • (+) Amendment A would prohibit Georgia lawmakers from increasing the top rate of the Peach State’s income tax. Many economists agree that of all types of taxes, the income tax creates the most significant hindrance to economic growth. This amendment would protect taxpayers from having to send more of their paychecks to Atlanta.
  • (+) Referendum 1 would maintain an ad valorem tax exemption for certain state university buildings and property that are part of a public-private partnership. If defeated, college students could face higher rent costs as the tax would be passed on to them. This measure is part of a larger effort by the University System to increase public-private partnerships that could relieve up to $4 billion in debt.

Local measures

Cobb County

  • (.) Voters will decide on a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) measure that would renew a 1 percent sales tax hike for 6 years, amounting to $750,000,000. If thwarted, Cobb County taxpayers would see their sales tax rate drop to 5 percent, which would be the lowest rate in the region. As Cobb County Taxpayers Association points out, many counties in the Atlanta area have a rate of 7 percent, meaning that this SPLOST proposal’s defeat would greatly benefit Cobb County residents and businesses by helping to attract more retail activity.

 

Hawaii

Statewide measures

  • (-) Amendment 2 would lead to the issuance of more state debt in order to fund “agricultural enterprises.”
  • (.) Amendment 4 could lead to preschools and early education programs in Hawaii receiving tax dollars through a system similar to a voucher-based program. While school choice programs are generally supported by fiscal conservatives, some taxpayer advocates, like state Senator Sam Slom, have raised concerns that the amendment may serve government interests over the interests of taxpayers.
  • (-) Amendment 5 would increase state debt by an unspecified amount to underwrite loans to owners of dams and reservoirs for improvements.

 

Idaho

Statewide measures

  • (+) HJR 2, if passed, would make state legislative review of state agency regulations a part of the Idaho Constitution. This is a process that already takes place, and, in the words of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, “Voters will need to decide whether it is an important enough process to safeguard by inserting it into the Idaho Constitution.

 

Illinois

Statewide measures

  • (-) The Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question is a non-binding advisory referendum. If passed, the Legislature would be advised to raise the Illinois hourly minimum wage to $10. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.
  • (-) The Illinois Millionaire Tax Increase for Education Question is also a non-binding advisory referendum that asks voters if they support increasing the income tax from 5 to 8 percent for citizens earning at least $1 million per year – a 60 percent tax increase. Many economists and policy experts, including those at the Illinois Policy Institute, agree that high income taxes are often a hindrance to economic growth.

Local measures

Note: While most are not included below, there are 85 tax referendums, 28 bond referendums, and 76 miscellaneous referendums that include a number of tax and fee hikes across the state of Illinois. Advocates for limited government, such as the Illinois Policy Institute, have pointed out that if approved, the vast majority of these local measures would grow the size and cost of government in the Land of Lincoln. Listed below is a small sampling of these measures.

City of Creal Springs

  • (-) Voters will decide a measure that would continue to prohibit retail liquor sales.

Village of Crowden

  • (-) Voters will decide a measure that would prohibit the sale of liquor in Cowden.

City of Schuyler

  • (-) Voters will decide a measure that would add $2.60 per month per network connection on cell phone carriers to pay for “enhanced” 911 services.

Genoa Township

  • (-) Voters will decide a measure that would hurt free speech by placing limits on so-called “super PACs.” The measure would also limit campaign contributions and utilize tax rebates to allow citizens to make donations to campaigns.

 

Louisiana

Statewide measures

  • (.) Amendment 1 would ensure that state lawmakers use resources from the Medical Assistance Trust Fund for their intended purpose and not to patch budget gaps. Some believe this amendment could discourage raids for spending hikes on other programs while encouraging more providers to offer health services. Others argue that with less flexibility to direct funds, policymakers might be more inclined to propose tax increases to address budget shortfalls.
  • (-) Amendment 2 would create a new Hospital Stabilization Fund backed by assessments. Since the money raised would earn matching funds from Washington, the proposal would lead to higher federal Medicaid spending in Louisiana.
  • (.) Amendment 3 would allow local governments to utilize private firms to assist with tax sales. This could reduce reliance on more costly government employees to collect delinquent taxes and speed sales of blighted properties. On the other hand private tax debt collectors would need to be monitored carefully.
  • (-) Amendment 4 would authorize a new state infrastructure bank that would likely accelerate state spending and debt in the name of transportation projects.
  • (-) Amendment 6, if passed, would authorize an additional ad valorem tax in Orleans Parish for improvements in fire and police services. This measure would require a second vote by residents of Orleans Parish.
  • (+) Amendment 7 would allow localities to lower property taxes for unemployable veterans. Parishes would be permitted to grant exemptions up to $150,000 for these military veterans.
  • (.) Amendment 8 would ensure that the Artificial Reef Development Fund be used for its intended purpose and not to fill holes in the state budget. Some believe this amendment could discourage raids for spending hikes on other programs while encouraging more providers to offer health services. Others argue that with less flexibility to direct funds, policymakers might be more inclined to propose tax increases to address budget shortfalls.
  • (.) Amendment 9 would exempt permanently disabled homeowners from having to certify their adjusted gross income to receive the Special Assessment Level for their property taxes.
  •  (-) Amendment 11, would allow for the creation of an additional executive branch department of government (currently there are 20 state executive departments). Passage of this amendment would cause the state government to grow and become costlier to taxpayers.
  • (+) Amendment 13 would allow the government of New Orleans to sell, instead of keep, strictly abandoned properties at below-market rates so as to encourage private development. There is a risk for abuse in the program, but over the longer-term, taxpayers stand to benefit from having more properties available.
  • (.) Amendment 14 would stop lawmakers from passing legislation that includes tax breaks during sessions that are held in even-numbered years.

 

Maine

Statewide measures

  • (-) Question 2 would increase state debt by $8 million to “monitor human health threats related to ticks, mosquitoes and bedbugs” and to fund state agriculture and natural resource projects.
  • (-) Question 3 would add another $12 million to Maine’s debt in order to provide loans to qualifying businesses.
  • (-) Question 4 would tack on an additional $10 million in state debt to build a health research center.
  • (-) Question 5 would add $3 million to the state debt to update specialized research laboratories.
  • (-) Question 6 would add $10 million in debt for water projects.
  • (-) Question 7 would issue $7 million in debt to keep marine businesses afloat.

 

Maryland

Statewide measures

  • (.) Question 1 could, according to supporters, add an extra layer of accountability to the existing Transportation Trust Fund by defining it in the state constitution. If passed, this measure would require tax dollars currently in the fund are spent to pay down transportation-related debt or to build and maintain highways. This requirement could still be overridden by the Governor (if he declares a fiscal emergency) or both chambers of the Legislature (with a three-fifths vote). Some have argued that those thresholds are not high enough for Question 1 to have a strong impact, and that the collections in the fund should be more forcefully devoted to debt retirement than new projects.

 

Massachusetts

Statewide measures

  • (+) Question 1 would eliminate “automatic” gas tax hikes by repealing a 2013 law that adjusts the tax for inflation. Tank the Gas Tax, which sponsored the citizen-initiated measure, notes that the current state administration “has re-instituted tolls, raised registry fees by 20 percent, and raised other taxes. And the last time gas taxes were increased the money was diverted from road repair. The state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” The well-respected Citizens for Limited Taxation recommends a “Yes” vote on Question 1.
  • (-) Question 4 would mandate that all businesses with 11 or more employees must offer 40 hours of paid sick time. Businesses with fewer than 11 employees would be required to provide 40 hours of unpaid sick leave. Several business groups including the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce oppose the measure, arguing that this mandate would place a large burden on businesses and hurt the economy.

 

Missouri

Statewide measures

  • (+) Amendment 3 would establish new performance-based evaluations for school teachers that would be used to determine raises and promotions. This could improve quality of teaching in Missouri.
  •  (+) Amendment 10 would prevent the Governor from estimating revenues for a budget based on legislation that has not yet passed. While the measure would not directly impact taxes, it would create a more evenly-distributed balance of power between executive and legislative branches of state government in the budget process. The measure is supported by Missouri Club for Growth.

 

Nebraska

Statewide measures

  • (-) Initiative 425 would increase the Nebraska minimum wage to $9 per hour by 2016. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers. Grassroots organizations, such as Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, oppose the measure.

 

Nevada

Statewide measures

  • (-) Question 2 would undo the 5 percent tax cap on mining operations, ultimately opening the door to higher taxes on the energy sector. According to Geoff Lawrence of the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), “Question 2 would remove the structure of mining taxation from the state constitution. In itself, this would not be significant, but legislators have been open about their intent in proposing this question. Currently, the Net Proceeds of Minerals tax is defined as an ad valorem tax assessed at 5 percent and with deductions for all capital investment. Should the amendment pass, legislation has already been passed that would immediately reclassify the tax as an excise tax and remove all deductions. There is also legislation pending that would double the rate of the excise tax from 5 to 10 percent.”
  • (-) Question 3 would levy a 2 percent margin tax on Nevada businesses to fund public schools. The measure is opposed by unions, taxpayers, and other activists because it would stifle job creation and hurt Nevada businesses while doing little to improve Nevada education. The tax would be assessed at two to four times the rate of the margin tax in Texas—the only other state with a statewide margin tax on business. In the Lone Star State, lawmakers heard more than 100 bills that would amend or repeal the tax in 2009 alone, according to the Tax Foundation. A recent study by the Nevada Policy Research Institute found that, if approved, Question 3 would eliminate 3,600 jobs and reduce real disposable income by $240 million per year. Additionally, NPRI points out that while businesses making less than $1 million in revenue would be exempt from the tax, “$1 million in total revenue is a relatively low threshold that is routinely surpassed by ‘mom-and-pop’ retailers, gas stations, liquor store, etc. Local retailers and small manufacturers, for example, must have large volumes in revenue in order to make even the smallest of profits.”

 

New Jersey

Statewide measures

  • (-) Public Question 2, if passed, would use 6 percent of corporate business taxes to purchase land for preservation, preventing future economic development. With the state facing serious budget difficulties, some are concerned this would hinder efforts to prioritize spending properly. Groups such as Common Sense New Jersey, New Jersey Taxpayers Association, and Americans for Prosperity - New Jersey oppose this measure.

 

New Mexico

Statewide measures

  • (.) Amendment 1, if passed, would eliminate a mandate that school elections be held separately from other elections. This could increase the number of taxpayers voting on school issues and save the school systems election costs. 
  • (+) Amendment 4 would recognize some counties as “urban counties,” giving them more legislative authority and power on local matters. 
  • (-) Bond Question A would increase state debt by $17 million to pay for improvements to senior citizen centers. 
  • (-) Bond Question B would add $11 million in debt to pay for school library projects. 
  • (-) Bond Question C would cause debt to increase by $141 million to fund higher education-related projects. 

Local measures

Las Cruces

  • (-) Voters will decide on a $9.8 million per year gross receipts sales tax in Las Cruces to expand bus service for the South Central Regional Transit District. Local activists say that the tax would hurt businesses, causing price increases and fewer charitable donations.

New York

Statewide measures

  • (+) Proposal 2 would allow bills in the State Legislature to be distributed electronically. Officials estimate $325,000 is spent printing paper copies of bills.
  • (-) Proposal 3 is one of the largest debt increase ballot measures in the country in 2014. If passed, state debt would increase by $2 billion to update technology in New York schools.

 

North Dakota

Statewide measures

  • (+) Measure 2 would prevent the state or a local jurisdiction from taxing the transfer of “real property” by adding a new section to the state constitution. Currently, five states, including nearby Montana and Wyoming have similar bans.
  • (.) Measure 4 would require that future ballot measures with significant fiscal impact be placed on the general election ballot. The measure would also restrict the use of ballot measures to make spending-related, constitutional changes. The North Dakota Watchdog Network cautions that this is not an equitable trade – the measure would make it tough for citizen activists to limit government.
  • (-) Measure 5 would create a constitutional mandate to use $4.8 billion in oil tax dollars over 25 years for special interest environmental projects. Local groups and associations spanning farming, energy, and business sectors are strongly opposed to Measure 5, because the measure does not detail how the money would be spent.
  • (+) Measure 7 would permit a non-pharmacist to have majority ownership of a pharmacy.

 

Ohio

Local measures

Note: Each November, Ohioans typically decide on far more local ballot measures than voters in other states. This year is no exception, with a grand total of 1,675 measures appearing on local ballots across the state. A complete list is available on the Ohio Secretary of State website and can be downloaded by clicking here. Voters will decide on income tax hikes, Sunday liquor sales option measures, sales tax increases, property tax hikes, and “fracking” ban initiatives, among others. A few examples are below.

Austinburg Township

  • (-) Voters in Austinburg Township will decide on a measure that would allow Sunday liquor sales.

Union Local School District

  • (-) Voters in the Union Local School District will decide on a measure that would increase the income tax by 0.5 percent.

Youngstown

  • (-) Voters will decide on the Youngstown Fracking Ban Charter Amendment, which would ban the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Youngstown.

 

Oklahoma

Statewide measures

  • (+) State Question 770 would allow disabled veterans and surviving spouses to sell their homestead and buy another home and still keep their homestead property tax exemption.
  • (+) State Question 771 would create a property tax exemption for spouses of military members who are killed in war.

 

Oregon

Statewide measures

  • (-) Measure 86 would increase state debt by creating a new fund to pay for post-secondary education for Oregonians. This includes technical, professional, and career training.
  • (-) Measure 92 would require the labeling of food that has been genetically modified in certain ways. After similar measures failed in Washington in 2013 and in California in 2012, supporters have fixed their sights on Oregon. Local chambers of commerce and family farmers oppose the measure because the new regulations would hurt business in the State.

 

Rhode Island

Statewide measures

  • (+) Question 3 would allow for a Rhode Island constitutional convention, which could create an opportunity for lawmakers and taxpayers to reorganize state government in ways that would place limits on taxation and spending.
  • (-) Question 4 would increase debt by $125 million to pay for a new building at the College of Engineering.
  • (-) Question 5 would raise debt by $35 million on behalf of cultural centers.
  • (-) Question 6 would add $35 million in state debt to update the mass transit system.
  • (-) Question 7 would increase debt by $53 million for environmental projects, recreational facilities, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

 

South Dakota

Statewide measures

  • (-) Initiated Measure 18 would increase the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and index it for inflation. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.

 

Tennessee

Statewide measures

  • (+) Amendment 3 would strengthen Tennessee’s 0 percent income tax rate on wages and salaries by affirmatively banning the policy in the state’s constitution.

Local measures

Note: On Election Day, voters in 80 localities throughout Tennessee will decide on measures that, if passed, would allow for wine to be sold in retail stores. This would not only lead to more convenience for consumers, but would also provide an economic boost to businesses throughout the state. Will wine retail wine sales appear on your local ballot? Find out here. All of these measures would be designated as “(+)” in this guide.

 

Texas

Statewide measures

(-) Proposition 1 would take $1.4 billion per year in gas and oil tax revenue from the Rainy Day Fund and use the money to fund transportation system upgrades. Unlike other measures creating “lockboxes” or simply shifting funds to other budget functions, this measure would directly reduce the amount of reserves that could be used to respond to future budget downturns. Some taxpayer activists are concerned that the result could be more pressure to raise taxes to close deficits. Furthermore, the citizen group Empower Texans has noted that the Texas Department of Transportation, which would administer the additional funds, is rife with “institutional incompetence, poor leadership decisions, and a lack of objective processes for project allocation.”

Local measures

(-) Voters will decide on the City of Denton Fracking Ban Initiative, which would ban the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Denton.

 

Virginia

Statewide measures

  • (+) Virginia voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would provide a property tax reduction to the spouses of military members who were killed in war.

 

Washington

Statewide measures

  • (-) Initiative 1351 would place limits on the size of school classes. As a recent Seattle Times editorial pointed out, the measure would force the state to hire roughly 12,000 new teachers plus countless support staff. A legislative study found that if passed, Initiative 1351 would increase school spending by $3.4 billion by the 2017-2019 budget period.
  • (.) Advisory Vote No. 8, would if passed, express support for recently-passed legislation declaring that marijuana is not a crop that qualifies for special agricultural product tax treatment. NTU takes no position on the legalization of marijuana; the measure is included in this guide because it pertains to tax policy.
  • (+) Advisory Vote No. 9 would, if passed, urge the State Legislature to repeal an excise tax on Indian properties.

Note: These non-binding referendums are part of a voter consultation process created by I-960, a citizen-initiated tax limitation measure that took effect in 2007.

 

West Virginia

Statewide measures

  • (+) Amendment 1 would bar the state from taxing property belonging to nonprofit youth organizations if the organizations have spent at least $100 million to develop the property. These organizations would also be allowed to use their property to raise money while maintaining their property tax exemption.

 

Wisconsin

Statewide measures

  • (.) Question 1, widely supported by business and labor groups, would ensure that transportation fees and taxes are used solely for state transportation projects through the use of a constitutional “lockbox.” This would end the practice of “raiding” the transportation fund to cover overspending in other areas of government.

Local measures

  • (-) Voters in the cities of Appleton, Menasha, Neenah, as well as Kenosha, Milwaukee, Rock, and Dane counties will decide on non-binding measures that would advise the State Legislature to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Economic studies have shown that higher minimum wages can reduce overall employment by making unskilled and young workers more expensive to hire. Furthermore, businesses could pass on the cost of the wage increase to consumers.