October 27, 2010
by Faiz Shakir, Benjamin Armbruster, George Zornick, Zaid Jilani, Alex Seitz-Wald, and Tanya Somanader
The Other Ballot Battles
When most voters go the polls on November 2, they will choose between candidates for local, state, and federal offices. With the possibility looming that the election could result in a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, it is likely that the upcoming election will be pivotal in this country’s history. Yet, while voting for public officials is important, voters all over the country will also have other choices to make come November 2. In numerous states across the nation, people will be asked to vote on ballot referendums that decide propositions, measures, initiatives, and amendments that make major changes to the laws in their states. The Progress Report today highlights some of the most pivotal ballot referendums across the country, ranging from propositions that would dismantle landmark climate change laws to constitutional amendments that would tilt the job market playing field against employees.
REVENUES VS. CUTS: As states continue to face enormous budget shortfalls — with budget gaps totaling $125 billion for 2011 — many are looking to responsibly raise revenues from those who can afford it to avoid crippling cuts to services for their most vulnerable residents. In Washington state, progressives have placed Initiative 1098 on the ballot, which would cut property taxes 20 percent, reduce taxes on small businesses, and slightly raise taxes on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Washingtonians, guaranteeing $2 billion in additional funding for education and health care. The initiative faces fierce opposition from conservatives, who have raised millions to fund a campaign against it from corporate giants like Microsoft, Expedia, and Trident Seafoods. In Massachusetts, voters will decide on Question 3, which would reduce the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, gutting the state’s revenue by $2 billion a year. Question 3 is opposed by gubernatorial candidates from both major parties, but is being backed by the far-right co-founders of the Center For Small Government. In Georgia, Amendment 2 aims to create a $10 annual car registration fee to generate $80 million to help fund trauma care in the state, particularly important in a state where the trauma death rate is 20 percent higher than the national average. In Colorado, amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 would hobble the state government’s ability to raise taxes and borrow money and cut the vehicle registration fee, potentially leading to the layoff of as many as 8,000 classroom teachers and would eliminate a quarter of the revenue of the Colorado Department of Transportation, decimating the upkeep and reforms of the state’s crumbling roads and bridges