Ballot initiatives Feed

The Republican governor of Massachusetts has signed a petition that, if successful, would let his state's voters decide if they want to tax millionaires more. Gov. Charlie Baker told WGBH public radio earlier this month that although he personally hasn't yet decided whether he supports a surtax on high-income taxpayers, he does believe that voters should get a say on the idea. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in the WGBH studios on Oct. 15. Photo by Meredith Nierman/WGBH News. Click image to listen to the interview. Such direct democracy efforts are becoming even more popular. As I note in my story... Read more →

Here in Texas, especially the western part of the state where I grew up and communities are many miles apart, you get used to driving. So when roads start deteriorating, motorists tend to get irritated. The rage over road conditions hit a new high when some of Texas' paved roads were left to return to gravel before the citizenry voted last November to direct some of the state's reserve "rainy day" money to transportation projects. On a more local level, counties and cities still appropriate some funds for relatively rocky roads. My particular subdivision street, for example, is one of... Read more →

Oregon voters on Nov. 4 approved use of small amounts of recreational marijuana in their state. The fight over taxing weed, however, continues. The ballot initiative that passed by a 56-to-44-percent margin specifically gave the state the exclusive right to tax marijuana. City officials are fighting that provision. State vs. local taxation: Under Measure 91, which takes effect July 1, 2015, producers will be taxed $35 an ounce for the most potent parts of a marijuana plant. Marijuana leaves will face a $10 per ounce tax, while there will be a $5 levy for plant starts sold to home growers.... Read more →

Berkeley, California, finally went where no taxing jurisdiction has gone before. Voters in the city on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay area overwhelmingly voted on Nov. 4 to tax sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and juice. No other town has ever done that. Just as impressive as the 75 percent pro-tax vote -- a simple majority was all that was needed for passage -- was that the Berkeley citizenry shut down the beverage industry, which spent more than $1 million fighting the ballot initiative. Approval of Measure D means that beginning Jan. 1, 2015, Berkeley will levy... Read more →

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. 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... Read more →

Most of us won't vote on tax-related ballot initiatives today, but taxes still will guide our choices, according to a recent poll. Public Opinion Strategies' (POS) national pre-election survey found that tax reform is a major concern for most voters. Overall, the Alexandria, Virginia-based political and public affairs research firm found that economic issues will be a deciding factor in how people vote today. Nearly all voters (96 percent) say economic issues are important to their vote. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) classify economic issues as "extremely" or "very important" in determining how they will cast their ballots. That sentiment was... Read more →

Vote! Vote, vote, vote, vote. Vote! The hubby and I voted early. Sometimes we wait until Election Day. Either way, we always vote, as the collection of polling place stickers on our bedroom dresser mirror attests. While I want my candidates and issues to win, I won't go as far as my friend Lisa, who says on social media, "Truth be told, I only want those of you who agree with me to vote. The rest of y'all, it's a big hassle and your one vote doesn't matter. Staying away is totally fine." Staying away is not totally fine. So... Read more →

Nov. 4 is not just a day to decide which candidates will fill local, state and federal legislative offices. Voters across the country also will be having their say on 146 ballot measures. The topics awaiting the people's voice range from guaranteeing gun rights, legalizing marijuana, hiking the minimum wage and even defining what it takes to be a person. Oh yeah. There also are several tax ballot initiatives, as detailed in today's Weekly Tax Tip. Straight to voters: Although lawmakers are chosen to make tough decisions about running a state or other levels of government, they are not averse... Read more →

You can pick on Cleveland and its sports teams all you want, but you've got to hand it to Browns, Cavaliers and Indians fans. They are willing to pay more sin taxes so that their NFL, NBA and MLB teams can play in top-notch facilities. Additional levies on alcohol and cigarettes were approved by Cuyahoga County voters on Tuesday, May 6. The taxes are projected to raise as much as $350 million, which will be used to pay for building, renovating, improving or repairing the city's professional teams' facilities. Tax dollars for the rich: Currently, the Cleveland Browns play their... Read more →

Colorado tax collectors appear to be the big winners in the state's sale of recreational marijuana. Owners of the 37 new dispensaries around the state reported first week retail sales exceeding $5 million. Around $1 million in legal pot transactions were made on New Year's Day, when the new law took effect. Despite the smart-ass caption by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal photographer (was that you, Milton Adams?), I was lighting up a Marlboro cigarette, not the wacky weed back in my early days as a newspaper police beat reporter called in late one night to cover a breaking story. Sanctioned marijuana... Read more →

All eyes have been on Colorado since its voters last year legalized recreational use of marijuana. This election day, we get to see if Colorado voters will agree to impose a 15 percent excise tax on weed. The tax would be on the average wholesale price of retail marijuana. It would apply when the plant product is first sold or transferred by a retail cultivation facility. The marijuana excise tax is just one part of Proposition AA. The measure also asks voters whether they want to add a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales of the herbal tobacco --... Read more →

Admit it. You wish you had been in Denver yesterday. That's where opponents of a special sales tax on personal use of pot rallied support for their cause by handing out more than 1,000 marijuana cigarettes. Marijuana cigarettes passed out in Denver to protest a proposal to add a sales tax to recreational pot sales. Click image to watch WUSA 9News video. The sales tax initiative will be on Colorado's November ballot. Colorado voters last year approved recreational use of marijuana. Individuals age 21 and older can possess up to an ounce marijuana for personal use, as well as grow... Read more →

Those wild and crazy Californians. They were in the forefront of anti-tax measures, most notably the 1978 version of Proposition 13, which subsequently was incorporated into the Golden State's constitution and limits real estate property tax increases. Now a local city lawmaker is looking to expand taxes. Specifically, Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak has tossed out the idea of an email tax to help save snail mail. The financial straits of the U.S. Postal Service became an issue for Berkeley lawmakers when the paper mail delivery system proposed closing that northern California city's downtown post office and selling the building.... Read more →

Last week was totally crazy. I was traveling and simultaneously trying to stay on top of tax developments. And there was this thing called a presidential election that kept distracting me. But I was able to post a couple of items last week at my other tax blog, although I'm a bit later than usual in noting those posts here! Hurricane Sandy continued to get attention almost a week after she made landfall and after being redubbed Superstorm Sandy. Whatever you want to call her, she was nasty. And the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged Sandy's effects by issuing some special... Read more →

Almost 200 various ballot questions made or will make it onto 39 statewide ballots in 2012. The states with most propositions are Alabama and Florida with 11 each. California has 10. Arizona, Louisiana and Oregon voters will decide on nine ballot questions in their respective states. Ballot questions 2012 word cloud courtesy Ballot Initiative Strategy Center The hot issues are marijuana, health, marriage and, of course, taxes. Thirty-four of the 2012 ballot initiatives involve tax issues. Four were decided by voters earlier this year. That leaves 30 tax-related referenda for voters in 15 states to decide when they go to... Read more →

At a recent personal finance bloggers conference in Denver, a few of my colleagues and I took time off from talking dollars and cents to see some local sights. As part of our ice cream and art walking tour (and yes, I admit that the ice cream was as big a draw as the art!) we were treated to some of the Mile High City's public art. That's "National Velvet" to the left, a sculpture by Denver artist (not pro tennis player) John McEnroe, installed in 2008 at the eastern foot of the city's Highlands Walking Bridge. It cost $53,000... Read more →

It's just the fifth day of the month, but it's a 30 kind of day. This morning I blogged about the 30th Olympiad, whose official Roman numerals make printing the formal title a bit dicey. But that number also is significant to California. To deal with the Golden State's budgetary issues, Gov. Jerry Bown is pushing a ballot initiative that would hike the income tax on Californians earning more than $250,000 a year. The measure also would raise the statewide sales tax paid by every consumer. Of course, The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 must be... Read more →

Few things tick people off like taxes and traffic. So combining the two usually isn't a good idea. But some states have decided to take that route. Let's start down the traffic and tax trail in the Peach State. A one cent regional transportation sales tax increase is on today's ballot in 10 Georgia counties. They are, of course, all around the incredibly congested Atlanta area UPDATE, Wednesday, Aug. 1: Georgia voters rejected the transporation proposal. Image courtesy the Untie Atlanta website, which has an interactive map where you can find more about transportation projects that might be paid for... Read more →

It now is official. Smokers can puff away without having to pay more in California cigarette taxes. For a brief time after the June 5 vote, it looked like Proposition 29, which would have raised the state cigarette excise tax by $1 a pack, might have a chance at becoming law. But Golden State voters narrowly defeated the ballot initiative, according to full precinct results that were posted Friday, June 22, on the California Secretary of State website. The tax, which would have gone primarily to cancer research projects, lost by 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. Around 100,000 absentee and... Read more →

California smokers might be puffing a bit nervously today as the Proposition 29 tally continues. Golden State election officials still are counting more than a million mailed ballots that were sent a day or two before the June 5 vote on the proposal to add another $1 per pack excise tax to cigarettes. Results immediately after the vote showed the ballot initiative to increase the tax being defeated by around 63,000 votes. But as the counting has continued, the no-new-tax margin of victory is shrinking. As of late Friday, June 15, the "no" vote lead had shrunk to 16,778 votes,... Read more →