Voters Send Message About Money

E-newsletter Issue #59 / November 3, 2010

Taxes were the number one ballot issue across the states in 2010.

Across the country, voters in 37 states considered 160 ballot proposals, many of them related to fiscal and economic issues. The issues included property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, fiscal limits, fees and miscellaneous taxes, rainy day funds, and changes to legislative procedures and voting requirements related to budget issues.

Based on the voting trends, Americans had this to say in 2010:

  • We want limited taxes and fees, including property taxes on certain groups like disabled veterans or the elderly and no new taxes on real estate sales.

  • We want to limit the power of state and local governments to raise taxes and fees, either by capping certain revenue streams or changing the legislative procedure, such as increasing the majority threshold or creating a voter-approved requirement.

  • We think state governments should be more fiscally responsible and should increase the amount of rainy day funds available and the amount contributed to those funds.

In Washington, for instance, voters rejected the state’s first-ever income tax on high-income individuals—$200,000 gross income—and dropped the sales tax on candy, bottled water and carbonated beverages. Voters also reinstated the recently repealed requirement that legislative actions that increase taxes be approved by a two-thirds majority or receive voter approval.

Some states bucked the trend, however, and rejected decreases or limits on taxes. In particular, Colorado citizens voted against Proposition 101, which would have reduced income tax rates from 4.63 percent to 3.5 percent, and reduced or eliminated taxes and fees on vehicles and telecommunication services. They also rejected a measure that would have banned state borrowing and required voter approval for local government borrowing.

In Massachusetts, voters shot down a proposed cut in the sales tax, which would have reduced the state tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent.

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