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Most of 2014's tax ballot questions approved by voters

Tax reform might have been an implicit issue in the Nov. 4 federal midterm elections, but the matter of assessing, collecting and exempting taxes was specific on many state and local ballots.

In most cases, voters approved the tax ballot initiatives. Here's a rundown of the major measures.

Election Results

Georgia is the first state to cap its income tax rate. Peach State voters decided that keeping its current 6 percent rate will make the state more competitive with other states. Some say this is the first step toward eventually eliminating the state income tax. Stay tuned.

Tennessee voters easily agreed to the ballot measure that prohibits the Volunteer State legislature from levying or permitting any tax on payroll or earned personal income. The state's current tax on certain investment income remains as is.

Illinois voters believe it's a good idea for millionaires in the Prairie State to pay a 3 percent state income tax surcharge. The vote, however, was advisory only. The chance of the millionaire tax actually being enacted by state lawmakers is low.

Massachusetts voters decided to roll back the Bay State's automatic gas tax hike. Proponents of the annual increase had argued that it was the only way for the revenue to keep up with inflation. The electorate, however, don't see that as a problem.

Texas voters also had transportation on the mind. Lone Star State residents approved a constitutional amendment to increase transportation spending. No new taxes were involved here. Rather, the vote now allows the state to divert half of Texas' oil and gas tax money from the heretofore closely guarded rainy day fund to improve roads.

Nevada residents, however, didn't go along with a major business tax ballot proposal. Silver State voters overwhelmingly rejected a 2 percent margins tax on businesses. The money would have helped pay for educational costs.

Oregon residents soon will be able to buy recreational marijuana. The vote allowing for the adult use of weed also gives the Beaver State the ability to regulate and tax the product. Oregon's Legislative Revenue Office estimates that "in fiscal year 2017, the revenue from legal marijuana is expected to be $16.0 million."

California voters also got a say on marijuana, but of the medical variety and at the local, not state, levels.

Golden State residents in several cities said yes to taxing medical marijuana, but also indicated that they want to limit who can grow and sell pot.

Also at the local level in California, two cities were closely watched this election for an indication of how the state, and perhaps other places across the country, might handle taxes on sugary beverages.

Alas, there's no clear direction.

The soda tax proposal won in Berkeley, but across the bay a similar ballot measure in San Francisco failed.

And while it wasn't a tax ballot initiative, Kansas voters apparently are OK with the financial problems the Sunflower State is facing thanks to the recent slashing of taxes there. They narrowly re-elected Republican Sam Brownback, the man who pushed through the great tax-cut experiment, as their governor.

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This Kansas voter is most definitely NOT okay with Brownback being re-elected. Too many people didn't exercise their responsibility to vote.

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