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State and Local Ballot Initiatives to Watch

2 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

TaxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. and budget related initiatives I’m watching:

  • Florida (Amendment 4) & Arizona (Prop 116) tangible personal property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. (property taxes on business equipment) reform initiatives
  • Arizona Prop 204 extending 1 percent sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. increase
  • Arkansas Issue 1 imposing half-cent sales tax to improve state highway system
  • California Prop 30 (Governor’s tax increases), Prop 38 (major tax increases), Prop 39 (ending multistate tax apportionmentApportionment is the determination of the percentage of a business’ profits subject to a given jurisdiction’s corporate income or other business taxes. U.S. states apportion business profits based on some combination of the percentage of company property, payroll, and sales located within their borders. option)
  • California local initiatives in El Monte (Measures C & H) and Richmond (Measure N) imposing a 1c per oz soda taxA soda tax is an excise tax on sugary drinks. Most soda taxes apply a flat rate per ounce of a sugar-sweetened beverage.
  • California – Los Angeles Measure J extends a temporary 0.5% transportation sales tax currently due to expire in 2039. Will be curious to see how voters deal with a proposal to tax transactions between 2040 and 2069
  • Colorado Amendment 64 – legalizes marijuana and instructs legislature to impose an excise taxAn excise tax is a tax imposed on a specific good or activity. Excise taxes are commonly levied on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soda, gasoline, insurance premiums, amusement activities, and betting, and typically make up a relatively small and volatile portion of state and local and, to a lesser extent, federal tax collections. on it
  • Florida Amendment 3 – a state spending limitation
  • Maryland Question 7 – table games casino in DC area, reduces tax rates on other slot parlors in state
  • Michigan (Proposal 1) to uphold the state’s emergency manager law, which allows the Governor to appoint administrators for financially insolvent cities to restructure their operations and obligations
  • Michigan (Proposal 5) to require 2/3 supermajority in legislature to raise taxes. Governor opposes it
  • Michigan (Proposal 6) would require voters to approve any new bridge to Canada. Curious how that turns out
  • Missouri (Proposition B) cigarette tax increase
  • Nebraska Marijuana Legalization Amendment – legalizes marijuana and instructs legislature to impose an excise tax on it
  • New Hampshire (ConCon) on whether to hold a constitutional convention
  • New Hampshire (CACR 13) banning an income tax in the state constitution
  • New Jersey (Question 2) requiring state judges to contribute toward their health and pension benefits
  • North Dakota (Measure 1) repealing the state’s poll tax (which was prohibited by the U.S. Constitution’s 24th Amendment)
  • Ohio (Issue 1) calling a state constitutional convention
  • Oklahoma (Question 758) capping state property tax increases to 3% per year
  • Oklahoma (Question 766) repealing the state intangibles tax
  • Oregon (Measure 79) banning real estate transfer taxes
  • Oregon (Measure 80) legalizes cultivation and sale of marijuana, state license revenues to go to general fund
  • Oregon (Measure 82) legalizing gambling and requiring 25 percent tax on casino gross revenues
  • Oregon (Measure 84) repealing the estate taxAn estate tax is imposed on the net value of an individual’s taxable estate, after any exclusions or credits, at the time of death. The tax is paid by the estate itself before assets are distributed to heirs.
  • Oregon (Measure 85) repealing the corporate “kicker” tax refundA tax refund is a reimbursement to taxpayers who have overpaid their taxes, often due to having employers withhold too much from paychecks. The U.S. Treasury estimates that nearly three-fourths of taxpayers are over-withheld, resulting in a tax refund for millions. Overpaying taxes can be viewed as an interest-free loan to the government. On the other hand, approximately one-fifth of taxpayers underwithhold; this can occur if a person works multiple jobs and does not appropriately adjust their W-4 to account for additional income, or if spousal income is not appropriately accounted for on W-4s.
  • Washington (Initiative 502) legalizes marijuana
  • Washington (Initiative 1185) reaffirming yet again the 2/3 legislative supermajority requirement for new taxes
Some states are voting on initiatives to disapprove of the federal health care individual mandate (AL, FL, MT, WY) and initiatives to disapprove of the Citizens United loosening of restrictions on corporations (CO, MT, and locals in CA, IL, OR, and WI). Montana voters are considering both!