119 state ballot referendums slated for Election Day

A tanker truck sits near a Parker Drilling Co. oil rig in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Alaska’s Ballot Measure 1 would increase oil production taxes on fields in the state’s North Slope.

Bloomberg News

Multi-billion dollar referendums in California, Illinois and Alaska highlight the 119 statewide ballot issues facing voters around the nation on Election Day.

Voters will consider bond issues in three states and a number of tax measures, according to a database maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Californians are being advised in their state voter guide that “beginning in 2025, total property taxes from commercial land and buildings probably would be $8 billion to $12.5 billion higher in most years” if they approve Proposition 15.

Proposition 15 would partially repeal the existing property tax limitations for commercial property under Proposition 13 and implement a split roll property tax system, according to Jackson Brainerd, senior policy specialist for the fiscal affairs program at NCSL.

“The assessment on certain commercial and industrial property would rise annually based on market value instead of being capped at a 2% increase a year as it is under current law,” Brainerd said.

Revenue from California Proposition 15 would go to local governments, schools, community colleges, and special districts under the same formula as other property tax revenues. It would provide funding for infrastructure through the faster repayment of current bond debt.

In Illinois, the state legislature has put a constitutional amendment before voters that would repeal the existing constitutional requirement that the state personal income and corporate tax be levied at one flat rate.

The measure would allow Illinois to use graduated rates with lower rates on lower income households. The newly structured income tax would raise about $3.6 billion a year.

Alaska’s Ballot Measure 1 would increase oil production taxes on fields in the state’s North Slope.

“The changes are estimated to increase the state’s share of production revenue from the three fields by about $1 billion annually when oil prices are normalized in the $55- to $65-per-barrel range,” said Brainerd of the NCSL.

The three states with bond issues on the ballot are Arkansas, California and New Mexico.

Arkansas voters will decide whether to continue a one-half percent sales tax on tangible personal property to fund the state’s four-lane highway system, county roads, and city streets after the retirement of the bonds authorized by Amendment 91 of the Arkansas Constitution.

California’s Proposition 14 involves whether to issue $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds to fund grants from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to educational, non‑profit, and private entities for stem cell and other medical research. The institute was created under a 2004 referendum which provided initial bond funding of $3 billion, almost all of which already has been spent.

New Mexico voters will decide on three bond issues.

The first is whether the state should issue $156.3 million in bonds for public higher education institutions, special public schools, and tribal schools.

The second will decide whether to issue $9.7 million in bonds for public libraries and a third bond measure will decide on the issuance of $33.3 million in bonds for senior citizen facility improvements.

There are only three statewide referendums on transportation issues, none of them involving gasoline taxes.

One is the already mentioned Arkansas ballot measure on continuation of its dedicated half percentage sales tax.

Virginia voters will decide whether to give an exemption for one automobile or pickup truck from state and local property taxes to veterans who have a 100% service-connected, permanent, and total disability.

Wyoming would remove its constitutionally- specified limit on the amount of debt a municipality can create for sewer projects. Instead, the Legislature would set the debt limit for municipal sewer projects.

Colorado and Oregon voters will vote whether to use cigarette taxes for health programs.

California Proposition 19 would change tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules.

Arizona will vote whether to increase its income tax on residents with incomes exceeding $250,000 to pay for teacher salaries and schools.

Colorado and Louisiana each have four statewide ballot measures involving taxes.

One Colorado measure would increase taxes on tobacco, create a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and dedicate the funds to education and health programs.

A second Colorado ballot measure would repeal the so-called Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limited the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes amounted to 45% of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes amounted to 55% of the total share of state property taxes.

The third Colorado tax measure would reduce the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%.

The final Colorado tax measure on the ballot would require voter approval of new businesses that are exempt from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) if their revenue is greater than $50 million within the first five years.

Louisiana’s four statewide ballot measures include one that would prohibit the use of state funds for abortions and another that creates an Unclaimed Property Permanent Trust Fund and allocates investment revenue to the general fund.

The third Louisiana measure would amend the state constitution to establish an ad valorem tax exemption for property subject to a cooperative endeavor agreement requiring the property owner to make payments in lieu of taxes.

The fourth Louisiana ballot measure is another constitutional amendment to remove an income limitation for qualifying for the special assessment level for residential property receiving the homestead exemption.

Florida has two tax measures on the ballot. One would allow the homestead property tax discount granted to a military veteran to be continued with a surviving spouse after his or her death. The other one is a proposed amendment to the state constitution to increase the time during which accrued Save Our Homes benefits may be transferred from one homestead to a new one.

Georgia has a referendum authorizing the state legislature to dedicate tax a fee revenue specific public purposes.

Michigan would amend the state constitution to provide for the use of certain revenues generated from leases for the extraction of nonrenewable resources from state owned lands and to modify the allowable expenditures from the Michigan natural resources trust fund and the Michigan state parks endowment fund.

Nebraska would amend its constitution to authorize the legislature to extend the maximum length of time for the repayment of indebtedness related to tax-increment financing.

New Jersey will consider expanding the state’s property tax deduction for wartime veterans to peacetime veterans and making surviving spouses of deceased peacetime veterans eligible for the tax deduction.

Utah would allow the legislature to use revenue from income taxes and property taxes to “support children and to support individuals with a disability.”

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