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20 state and local ballot measures from across the nation could help shape education

The 74 Million |

Issues highlighted from across the country including new funding sources for schools, legalizing marijuana, allowing race-based admissions, and universal pre-k.

Alabama Amendment 4: Alabama’s constitution — last revised in 1901 — contains some lingering school segregation language that Amendment 4 would authorize the legislature to remove when it meets again in 2022.

Arizona, Proposition 208 — which would help fund education with.5 percent surcharge on annual income over $250,000 — has had a rocky journey to the ballot. Sponsors placed it before voters in 2018, but the state Supreme Court kicked it off, ruling that the description of the “tax burden” was unclear.

California will decide if a tax assessment formula that has been in place for more than 40 years should be amended — potentially providing more than $4 billion for public schools. They will also decide on bringing affirmative action back in college admissions and allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries.

Colorado Amendment B: Colorado voters will decide whether to repeal what is known as the Gallagher Amendment, a formula that sets across-the-board limits on funding for the state and local governments: 45 percent comes from residential property taxes , compared with 55 percent from taxes on commercial property. 

Colorado, Proposition EE is one measure that made it through the legislative rush. The proposed tax on tobacco and vaping products is predicted to bring $87 million into the general fund, increasing to $276 million by 2027. In the first two years, the revenue would offset some of the budget cuts in education resulting from COVID-19. But in 2023, it would be directed toward a new universal pre-K program, a priority for Gov. Jared Polis.

Florida Amendment 1: The proposal seeks to change the wording in the state constitution to read that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is at least 18 years old, is registered, and is a permanent resident of the state can vote. It currently states that “every citizen” can vote. Proponents argue that the change is needed because the law doesn’t specify who can’t vote. Opponents of the measure, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, say the change isn’t necessary and could lead to voter suppression.

Maryland Question 2: Maryland voters will decide whether to approve sports betting to help fund public schools. If the measure passes, the state would join 23 others that allow commercial gaming. 

New Mexico Bond Question B: If approved, a $9.7 million bond would include funding for school libraries.

New Mexico Bond Question C: A yes vote would approve $156.3 million in bonds for capital improvements to education facilities, including tribal schools and special schools for students who are visually and hearing impaired.

South Dakota Amendment A: South Dakota voters are being asked whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana and tax it at 15 percent. A portion of the revenue — projected to bring in $60 million a year by 2024 — would be used to regulate the industry, while half of the remaining funds would be spent on public schools. 

Utah Amendment G: Under current law, the state can only use income tax revenue to fund education. The Utah legislature wants to expand that definition to include other programs for children and people with disabilities. 

Washington Referendum 90: Curriculum-related debates aren’t usually decided at the polls. But a controversial measure on Washington’s ballot allows voters to decide whether a bill establishing a comprehensive sex education program will go into effect. 

Additional details and other local issues in the full 74 Million article.