Ballot measures give citizens the opportunity to directly accept or reject laws or amendments. This year, voters in many states cast ballots on proposals related to revenue, spending, and public services.

In California, voters passed both Propositions 30 and 39, which raised income taxes and corporate taxes, respectively, as a means to prevent cuts to education and fund clean energy jobs. Oregon voters also came out in favor of education when they passed Measure 85, which allocates the corporate income and excise tax “kicker” refund to the General Fund to support K through 12 public education. Oregonians also voted down Measure 84, which would have phased out inheritance and estate taxes.

Some measures that would have severely limited states’ power to raise revenue were also defeated. Florida voters rejected Amendment 3, which proposed a limit on state revenue based solely on inflation and population. Similarly, Michigan’s Proposal 5 would have required a two-thirds majority in the state legislature in order to raise taxes. The proposal failed, partly because many believed it would have caused gridlock in the state legislature, rendering representatives incapable of raising taxes at all. A majority of New Hampshire voters voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would ban any new taxes on personal income, however, as an amendment it required a two-thirds majority to become law.

Voters in Arizona and South Dakota voted down sales tax increases aimed at supporting public services. Arizona’s Proposition 204, which would have renewed a one-cent sales tax to fund education, failed at the polls. Similarly, Measure 15 in South Dakota, which would have established a one percent sales tax increase in order to fund both education and health care, was also defeated. Voters in Oklahoma struck down an annual increase in property taxes by voting against Question 758.

Find out how nonprofits can get involved in ballot measure education and advocacy.

This post was written by Nonprofit VOTE Intern Lauren Dobbs. Lauren graduated from Boston University with a BA in International Relations in 2011 and will be attending graduate school next fall to obtain an MSc in Development Studies.

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