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Voters in Five States Decide Tax-Related Ballot Initiatives

3 min readBy: Joseph Bishop-Henchman

Yesterday, voters in five states decided 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 spending-related ballot initiatives. Here are some of the highlights, with links to more details at the excellent website Ballotpedia:




Colorado Proposition BB – Decides whether to refund or spend $66 million in marijuana tax revenue. Yes means keeping the money and spending it on school construction and youth programs; No means refunding the money with an $8 per taxpayer income tax refund, $24 million refund to marijuana cultivators, and reducing the marijuana sales tax from 10 percent to 0.1 percent. (Tax Foundation analysis here.)

66% 34%

Mississippi Initiative 42 and Alternative 42 – Initiative 42 would add language to Mississippi's Constitution giving courts the power to determine funding levels for schools. Alternative 42 adds language to the Constitution without judicial enforcement power. Voters can indicate "either measure" of these two competing proposals and then select one, or indicate "neither measure" to reject them both. (Tax Foundation analysis here.)

(58% for 42, 42% for 42A)

Ohio Issue 3 – Legalizes use and sale of marijuana and grants exclusive monopolies to cultivate and sell marijuana to ten facilities. These facilities would pay a ten percent tax; marijuana retail sales would be further taxed at five percent. Issue 2, also on the ballot, amends the state Constitution to ban ballot initiatives that grant monopolies, which will make it interesting if both pass.

36% 64%

Texas Proposition 1 – Increases the homestead exemption from property taxes from $15,000 to $25,000.

86% 14%

Texas Proposition 2 – Clarifies that the property tax exemption for surviving spouses of disabled veterans applies to spouses whose partners died before January 1, 2010.

91% 9%

Texas Proposition 7 – Revenue trigger designating two categories of extra revenue for transportation spending: (1) the first $2.5 billion of sales tax revenues above $28 billion and (2) 35 percent of car rental tax revenue above $5 billion. The first threshold is likely to be met in 2018; the second threshold in 2020.

83% 17%

Washington Initiative 1366 – Reduces sales tax by one percentage point unless the Legislature refers a tax increase supermajority requirement to voters. Washington voters have passed such a supermajority requirement on five occasions but the Legislature has repealed it each time. Only the Legislature can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot, resulting in this proposal's unique mechanism.

54% 46%

Washington Advisory Vote No. 10 – Non-binding measure asking voters to express views on annual $1.8 million oil spill administration and response tax.



Washington Advisory Vote No. 11 – Non-binding measure asking voters to express views on $1 fee for medical marijuana cards issued by retailers, which raises about $437,000 per year.

58% 42%

Washington Advisory Vote No. 12 – Non-binding measure asking voters to express views on 11.9 cent gas tax increase that funds a transportation expansion.

33% 67%

Washington Advisory Vote No. 13 – Non-binding measure asking voters to express views on the expansion of the Washington Business & Occupation (B&O) gross receipts tax to copyrights, patents, licenses, franchises, trademarks, and software, raising $150 million per year.

35% 65%

Ohio's rejection of Issue 3 was in large part not because of opposition to legalized marijuana but because of the weird structure of the proposal — designating ten specified cartels that would control the industry. Many who support legalized marijuana voted no because of that structure, and Issue 2, which added a constitutional provision banning the creation of such cartels, passed 52% to 48%.

On Washington Initiative 1366, the ball is now in the Legislature's court. They can either let the 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. drop by one percentage point — a $1.4 billion annual revenue loss — or let voters decide a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to raise taxes. Voters have passed supermajority requirements on five occasions only to see the Legislature repeal them, and only the Legislature can refer a constitutional amendment to a public vote. All major newspapers and most prominent politicians opposed Initiative 1366, so it's a sharp rebuke.