CategoryBallot measures

Campaign to place an income tax for education funding on Idaho ballot submits signatures

On May 2, Reclaim Idaho, the campaign behind an initiative to increase the income tax rate for individuals with incomes above $250,000 and increase the corporate income tax rate, submitted over 95,269 signatures for verification. The required number of signatures is 64,945, which is equal to 6% of the registered voters at the state’s last general election. Idaho also has a distribution requirement that requires signatures equal to at least 6% of registered voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts to be included in petitions. Reclaim Idaho said it had met the distribution requirement in 20 legislative districts.

The initiative, referred to as the “The Quality Education Act” by the campaign, would increase the state income tax for individuals, trusts, and estates with incomes above $250,000 to $16,097 plus 10.925%. This is up from the existing rate of 6.5%. The initiative would require that the new tax income bracket be changed annually by an adjustment factor equal to the consumer price index for the calendar year of 2024 divided by the consumer price index for the calendar year preceding. The new tax brackets and tax rates would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. The tax bracket would not be adjusted for inflation until 2025.

The initiative would also increase the corporate income tax from 6.5% to 8%. According to the Tax Foundation, 44 states levy a corporate income tax ranging from 2.5% in North Carolina to 11.5% in New Jersey.

The initiative would also establish the Quality Education Fund. Revenues from the increased income tax would be deposited into the fund. The initiative states that the funds should be appropriated by the state board of education. It would prohibit funds from being appropriated to pay the salaries of superintendents, principals, or other administrators. It would also give the state board of education the power to promulgate rules to implement the initiative.

Reclaim Idaho attempted to place the initiative on the ballot in 2020 but announced it was suspending its campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign filed a lawsuit against the state, which refused to allow the campaign to use DocuSign to electronically collect signatures. In July 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state ordering an emergency stay on a lower court’s order that authorized the campaign to collect signatures electronically.

The initiative has won the endorsement of the Idaho Education Association, which unanimously endorsed it at its meeting last month. Luke Mayville, a co-founder of Reclaim Idaho, said, “Most people do not view education as political. They understand that quality education relies on government, and therefore relies on politicians to do their jobs and fund public schools, but they don’t view funding for education as a controversial political topic. They view it as a no-brainer.” As of March 2022, the campaign has raised over $579,000 in contributions.

State Sen. Steven Thayn (R), who is the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said, “I am not supportive. First of all, I think it’s based on a false assumption that money will improve education, and that is not necessarily the case. The No. 1 need in education is not more money.”

The statutory deadline to submit signatures was May 1, 2022, but the secretary of state allowed campaigns to submit signatures on May 2, since the official day fell on a Sunday.

Five other initiative campaigns were cleared for signature gathering, but Reclaim Idaho is the only campaign that has collected more than the required number of signatures. The other initiatives included medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana legalization, an increased minimum wage, changes to initiative signature requirements, and a referendum on signature distribution requirements.

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Texas May 7 ballot measure election preview

Texas voters are heading to the polls on May 7 to decide two statewide constitutional amendments and a variety of local ballot measures.

The constitutional amendments concern state property taxes. Proposition 1 would amend the state constitution to authorize the state legislature to reduce the property tax limit for school maintenance and operations taxes levied on the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents to reflect any tax rate reduction enacted by law from the preceding tax year. In 2019, the Texas State Legislature passed House Bill 3 (HB 3), which provided school maintenance and operations tax rate compression. However, the rate reduction did not apply to the homesteads of elderly or disabled residents. Proposition 1 would extend the reduction to include those homesteads.

Proposition 2 would increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes from $25,000 to $40,000. The increased exemption would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and applies only to a tax year beginning on or after that date. Voters last increased the exemption in 2015 with the passage of Proposition 1, which increased it from $15,000 to $25,000.

The amendments have both been endorsed by the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board, and the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board. The Austin Chronicle Editorial Board endorsed Proposition 1 but came out in opposition to Proposition 2, saying, “Prop 2 is much more straightforward but is also just straight-up pandering. It’s almost guaranteed to pass now that everyone’s seen their new tax appraisals, but increasing the school district homestead exemption (from $25,000 to $40,000) is the coward’s way out of broad-based tax relief: Schools really need that money, and in many cases, this simply shifts the burden to renters.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), the sponsor of both amendments, said, “People see the need for property tax relief, and Texans are going to cry out for that continuously. This is a great way to bring that home to all of the taxpayers of Texas.”

Ballotpedia is also covering 25 local ballot measures in Texas. Austin voters will decide on Proposition A, which would decriminalize marijuana and prohibit the use of no-knock warrants. The proposition is a ballot initiative that was sponsored by Ground Game Texas. Supporters include former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro (D), gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), former State Rep. Wendy Davis (D), and Austin Mayor Stephen Adler (D).

Voters in San Antonio will decide on six bond issues totaling $1.2 billion. The revenue from the bonds would fund streets and sidewalk improvements, drainage and flood projects, parks and recreation, library and cultural facilities, public safety, and housing for households at certain income levels.

Fort Worth voters will decide on five bond issues and 13 charter amendments. The five bond issues total $560 million for roads and transportation improvements, parks and recreation, library improvements, police and public safety, and natural area and open space projects. The 13 charter amendments relate to salary increases for the mayor and city council members; city redistricting standards; requirements for the removal of local officials; initiative petitions; annexation elections; the role of the city’s independent auditor; and other local government administration.

Early voting started on Monday, April 25, and runs through Tuesday, May 3. On election day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

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Colorado legislature refers amendment to ballot to designate judges to newly created 23rd judicial district court

The Colorado State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the November 2022 ballot to designate judges to serve in a new 23rd Judicial District when the new district takes effect in 2025.

In 2020, the Colorado State Legislature passed and Governor Jared Polis (D) signed House Bill 1026, which was designed to remove Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties from the 18th judicial district and create a new 23rd judicial district for those counties, effective Jan. 7, 2025. Under the bill, the 23rd district was set to include eight judges, while the 18th district was set to have seven judges removed, meaning the total number of district court judges in the state was set to increase by one.

Colorado has had 22 judicial districts since 1964. District courts in Colorado are trial courts of general jurisdiction that handle civil, criminal, and probate cases. The 18th Judicial District court was established in 1964 to serve Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Twenty days after the district was established, Elbert County was added to the district. In 1969, Lincoln County was added to the district. As of 2022, the 18th judicial district was comprised of 24 judges and one chief judge.

The constitutional amendment would require the governor, by November 30, 2024, to designate judges from the 18th judicial district to serve in the newly created 23rd judicial district. Judges would be required to establish residence in the 23rd district by Jan. 7, 2025.

To refer the constitutional amendment to the ballot in Colorado, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote was required in both chambers of the state legislature.

The amendment was introduced as House Concurrent Resolution 22-1005. It was approved in the House on April 18, 2022, by a vote of 60-2. The amendment was passed unanimously by the Senate on April 26, 2022.

In 2022, Colorado voters will also decide an initiative to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%.

A total of 105 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during even-numbered election years during the 20-year period between 2000 through 2020. Of the 105 measures, 48 were approved (45.71%) and 57 were defeated (54.29%). From 2000 through 2020, the number of measures on the even-year ballot ranged from 3 to 14.

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Campaign for ranked-choice voting ballot initiative in Missouri has raised millions ahead of signature deadline

The campaign supporting a ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballot initiative in Missouri has received millions in contributions in the weeks ahead of its signature deadline. The initiative would change the state’s primary system to utilize open primaries in which the top four vote recipients, regardless of partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

The Better Elections PAC is leading the campaign behind the top-four RCV ballot initiative. Better Elections received $4.30 million through March 31. Over 98% of the PAC’s funding came from the organization Article IV, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Article IV is associated with John and Laura Arnold, whose organization Action Now Initiative contributed to RCV-related ballot initiatives in previous years.

The signature deadline is May 8. The number of signatures required is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. The smallest number of valid signatures required is 160,199; however, the actual requirement depends on from which districts enough signatures were collected.

Statewide RCV ballot measures have gone before voters in three states. Should this initiative make the ballot, Missouri would be the fourth state to vote on RCV measures. Maine adopted RCV through Question 5 in 2016 and Alaska adopted RCV through Ballot Measure 2 in 2020. Massachusetts voters rejected RCV through the defeat of Question 2 in 2020.



Arizona Supreme Court rules against veto referendum to challenge state income law

Voters in Arizona will not vote on a veto referendum to repeal a new income tax law this November.

Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against a veto referendum that challenged two sections of an omnibus appropriations bill signed by Gov. Doug Ducey (R) in June 2021. The sections (13 and 15 of Senate Bill 1828) would reduce Arizona’s state income tax from four brackets to two brackets, and reduce the brackets to a flat rate of 2.50% when state revenue exceeds $12.976 billion.

In Arizona, income of $26,500 or less is taxed at 2.59%, while income of $159,001 or more is taxed at 4.50% (brackets for those paying jointly are double these dollar amounts). Sections 13 and 15 would change the four brackets to two brackets of 2.55% and 2.98%.

The citizens behind the campaign for the veto referendum, Invest In Arizona, sought to bring the issue to the ballot. The Arizona Education Association and Stand for Children both backed the campaign, expressing concerns with how a flat tax rate will impact funding for Arizona’s schools. Invest In Arizona filed the veto referendum in July of 2021, shortly after SB1828 was signed into law.

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club challenged the veto referendum as unconstitutional, stating that the Arizona Constitution prohibited veto referendums against bills that provide for support and maintenance of state government. Lawyers for Invest in Arizona argued that the flat tax portion of SB1828 does not fall into that category because it would lead to less revenue for the state government.

Meanwhile, the Invest in Arizona PAC raised $5.29 million and filed more than 215,000 signatures. In November of 2021, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced that there were enough signatures collected for the measure to appear on the ballot in 2022.

The issue was brought to the Maricopa County Superior Court, and in December 2021, Judge Katherine Cooper ruled against the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, ruling that Arizona voters have the right to decide on the referendum. The judge stated that while there is no right to refer tax increases to the ballot, this referendum did not fall into category because, if successful, it would leave the state with more revenue.

This decision was appealed, and was brought to the Arizona Supreme Court. On April 21, 2022, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, ordering that the veto referendum be removed from the ballot. The court concurred that Section 13 and 15 of SB1828 do fall under the “support and maintenance” criteria of the Arizona Constitution, and that this measure cannot be brought before voters on the ballot.

Scot Mussi, the president of Arizona Free Enterprise Club, stated that the ruling was a “big win for taxpayers in our state”. David Lujan, executive director and CEO of the Arizona Children’s Action Alliance, argued that the flat tax would devastate Arizona’s future, and that it takes away voices of voters. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court also struck down Proposition 208, a voter-approved measure that enacted a 3.50% income tax for income above $250,000 to fund K-12 schools.

Currently, there are four measures that are certified to be on the ballot in Arizona.

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North Dakota group submits signatures for initiative to require a 60% vote requirement and single-subject rule for constitutional amendments

On April 22, the campaign Protect North Dakota’s Constitution reported submitting 33,624 signatures for a ballot initiative to the secretary of state’s office. At least 31,164 of the signatures need to be deemed valid for the initiative to appear on the ballot. The secretary of state has 30 days to issue its determination on whether or not enough valid signatures were submitted.

The initiative would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote to adopt a constitutional amendment. Under the initiative, constitutional amendments would be limited to a single subject. The initiative would apply to constitutional amendments that are placed on the ballot through citizen initiative petitions as well as those referred to the ballot by the state Legislature.

Constitutional amendments require approval by voters in a statewide election to become a part of the state’s constitution except in Delaware. Currently, 38 states require a simple majority vote (50%+1) for a proposed constitutional amendment to be adopted. In 11 states, voters must approve a proposed constitutional amendment by more than a simple majority or by some rule that combines different criteria.

A single-subject rule is a state law that requires ballot initiatives to address a single subject, topic, or issue. There are 26 states that provide for at least one type of statewide citizen-initiated measure. Of those 26 states, 16 have single-subject rules.

There is a similar rule called a separate-vote requirement, which applies to initiated constitutional amendments in at least six states (Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota). The separate-vote requirement prohibits constitutional amendments from changing more than one article or section of the state constitution. Separate vote requirements can also apply to legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

The campaign stated, “The North Dakota Constitution has faced proposed changes in every election cycle over the past decade as a mere simple majority is all that is required to change the state constitution. … Changing our constitution is serious business with long lasting implications and should not be taken lightly. A 60% threshold will ensure only measures that are well conceived, effectively communicated and overwhelmingly supported by the people of North Dakota get added to our state’s constitution. … [And] focusing on a single issue will improve the transparency of the intent of the measure and help voters better understand the measure’s meaning and impact.”

ND Watchdog Network Director Dustin Gawrylow, a measure opponent, said, “It’s just another attempt to diminish the public’s ability to influence their own government. It’s asking the voters to give away the rights of themselves and future generations. It’s going to drastically increase the cost of doing [initiatives]. If they wanted to get rid of out of state money, this is not going to do it.”

Measures to increase the vote requirement for ballot measures are also on the November ballot in Arkansas and South Dakota.

The Arkansas measure would amend the state constitution to require a three-fifths 60% supermajority vote of approval from voters to adopt constitutional amendments (legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) and citizen-initiated state statutes.

The South Dakota measure would require a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote for the approval of ballot measures placed on the ballot through citizen initiative or referred to the ballot by the state legislature that increase taxes or fees or that would require the state to appropriate $10 million or more in the first five fiscal years.

From 2000 to 2020, 35 constitutional amendments (both legislatively referred and citizen-initiated) were on the statewide ballot in North Dakota. Of the 35 amendments, 25 (71.43%) were approved and 10 (28.57%) were defeated. Of the 25 constitutional amendments that were approved, seven were citizen initiated amendments. All the citizen initiated amendments were approved by more than a 60% vote, except Measure 1 of 2018, which was designed to establish an ethics commission, ban foreign political contributions, and enact provisions related to lobbying and conflicts of interest. Measure 1 was approved by a vote of 53.63%. The other 18 approved constitutional amendments were placed on the ballot by the state legislature, of which, five were approved by less than a 60% vote.

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Ballot initiative to increase funding for arts and music education in California schools submits signatures

The campaign behind an initiative to increase funding for arts and music education in California public schools announced it had submitted 1 million signatures for verification on April 26. The required number of signatures to place the proposed law on the 2022 ballot is 623,212, which is equal to 5% of the votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial election.

In California, the signature verification deadline is June 30, 2022. However, the process of verifying signatures can take multiple months and proponents are recommended to file signatures at least two months before the verification deadline.

The ballot initiative was filed with the state on Nov. 1, 2021. The attorney general issued ballot language on Jan. 5, 2022, clearing the initiative for signature gathering.

The proposed law would require a minimum source of annual funding for K-12 public schools to fund arts and music education programs. The annual minimum amount would be equal to, at minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the prior fiscal year and be in addition to the education funding minimum provided by Proposition 98. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the ballot initiative would likely result in increased spending of $800 million to $1 billion each fiscal year.

Of the total amount guaranteed under the 1% additional minimum funding for arts education, 70% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of the statewide enrollment of K-12 students in the prior fiscal year. The other 30% would be allocated to local education agencies based on their share of economically disadvantaged students (defined as students eligible for the National School Lunch Program). 

One PAC, Californians for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools, was registered in support of the ballot initiative. It has received over $6 million in contributions according to its latest campaign finance filings. The top donors include Austin Beutner ($2,950,000), Steven A. Ballmer ($1,500,000), Monica Rosenthal ($1,000,000), Fender Musical Instruments ($328,267), and Comcast ($100,000).

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (D) and former Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District Austin Beutner wrote in an op-ed, “Only 1 in 5 public schools in California has a dedicated teacher for traditional arts programs like music, dance, theater and art, or newer forms of creative expression like computer graphics, animation, coding, costume design and filmmaking. … This initiative is timely as our country seeks to create a more just and equitable future for all children. A boost in arts and music education will help ensure the future workforce in media and technology properly reflect the diversity of the children in our public schools.”

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board has come out in opposition to the initiative, saying, “This is a bad idea. Right now, state coffers are flush. But when revenue becomes tight in the future, the governor and Legislature need as much flexibility in the budget as possible to make sure that critical needs are funded. What happens if the student population plummets in future years while the number of disabled elderly people grows?”

Between 2014 and 2022, the year with the highest number of initiatives filed in California was 2016 with 135. The total for 2022 was 53 making it the second-lowest number of initiatives filed; 2020 had 46 initiatives filed.

Four statewide ballot propositions have qualified for the ballot in California. Voters could decide on an initiative to legalize in-person sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks; an initiative to increase the cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits; an initiative to reduce the use of plastic waste and enact a fee on single-use plastic; and a veto referendum to uphold the ban on flavored tobacco sales. ​​Initiative proponents may withdraw an initiative from the ballot at any time before June 30, 2022.

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Omaha voters to decide six bond measures totaling $260 million on May 10; May 2 is the early voting ballot request deadline

In Omaha, Nebraska, voters will decide six bond questions totaling $260.3 million on May 10. The questions include a $120 million continuation of the street preservation bond issue that voters approved in 2020. The other five bond questions total $140.3 million and concern:

In 2020, Omaha voters approved a $200 million bond issue for the creation of a street preservation program and an additional property tax of $35 per $100,000 in assessed property value to repay the bonds. City officials estimated that by the end of 2022 the city will have spent $120 million of the $200 million authorized by voters in 2020.

In May 2018, Omaha voters approved five bond measures totaling $227.465 million that mirrored the purposes of five of the 2022 bond questions:

Nebraska voters will also see primary races for governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and state auditor, as well as school board, county, and municipal races on May 10. The deadline to request an early voting ballot by mail for the May 10 elections is May 2.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.

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Campaigns for ranked-choice voting ballot initiatives in Missouri, Nevada have raised millions ahead of signature deadlines

Campaigns that support ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballot initiatives in Missouri and Nevada have received millions in contributions in the weeks ahead of their signature deadlines. Both of the ballot initiatives would utilize open primaries in which the top candidates, regardless of partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. In Missouri, the top four vote recipients would advance to the general election. In Nevada, the top five vote recipients would advance. In Missouri and Nevada, voters would use ranked-choice voting to determine who among the four or five candidates wins the election. Despite the similarities between the two proposals, each one has different top donors. 

In Nevada, the PAC Nevada Voters First is leading the campaign and signature drive. The PAC received $2.26 million through March 31. Katherine Gehl, founder of the Institute for Political Innovation and former CEO of Gehl Foods, Inc., contributed $1 million. The Final Five Fund, Inc., which the Institute for Political Innovation lists as a 501(c)(4) counterpart, provided $488,000. The Nevada Association of Realtors and Strategic Horizons, a committee associated with the Clark County Education Association, each donated $250,000. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, contributed $100,000, as did the organization Unite America. 

In Missouri, the Better Elections PAC is leading the campaign behind the top-four RCV ballot initiative. Better Elections received $4.30 million through March 31. Over 98% of the PAC’s funding came from the organization Article IV, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Article IV is associated with John and Laura Arnold, whose organization Action Now Initiative contributed to RCV-related ballot initiatives in previous years.

The signature deadline is May 8, 2022, in Missouri. The number of signatures required is equal to 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. The smallest number of valid signatures required is 160,199; however, the actual requirement depends on from which districts enough signatures were collected.

The deadline to file signatures for the top-five RCV ballot initiative in Nevada is June 21, 2022. At least 135,561 valid signatures are required for the initiative to make the ballot. In Nevada, initiated constitutional amendments, such as the initiative, need to be approved at two successive general elections. So voters would need to approve the ballot initiative in 2022 and 2024.

Statewide RCV ballot measures have gone before voters in three states. Should the ballot initiatives in Missouri and Nevada make the ballot, the two would be the fourth and fifth states to vote on RCV measures.

Maine became the first state to adopt RCV for some statewide elections when voters approved Question 5 in 2016. PACs raised $2.94 million to support Question 5. Action Now Initiative was the largest donor, providing $470,000.

Two states – Alaska and Massachusetts – voted on RCV ballot initiatives in Nov. 2020. Massachusetts Question 2 was defeated, with 54.78% of voters rejecting the proposal. The campaign behind Question 2 raised $10.18 million, including contributions from Action Now Initiative, Unite America, and Katherine Gehl. Voters in Alaska approved Ballot Measure 2, which received 50.55% of the vote. Ballot Measure 2 replaced partisan primaries with open top-four primaries and established ranked-choice voting for general elections. The campaign received $6.84 million, with Unite America and Action Now Initiative as top donors.

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Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics – Edition 8

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over government-funded lunches in public schools
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Education on the ballot
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over government-funded lunches in public schools 

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

On March 31, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) introduced the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act of 2022. The bill would extend for one year U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers issued during the pandemic allowing public schools to provide free meals to all children. Congress did not extend the waivers in the most recent budget bill. 

Below, Richard E. Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and Jamie Bussel, a senior program officer, write that universal school lunches would improve the health of children, reduce food insecurity, and undo the effects of systematic racism. 

Max Eden, research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes that the expanded school lunch program could affect childrens’ perception of the family as their primary provider. Eden also says agriculture lobbyists influence school lunch menus, so the food is not as healthy as proponents think. 

School meals should remain free for all children — today and always | Richard E. Besser and Jamie Bussel, The Hill

“But the value of good nutrition to children, families and schools is long-term and profound. Universal school meals should be permanent. Our nation has a history of addressing shortfalls during periods of crisis, only to let them reaccumulate once the dust has settled. If we take that path with universal school meals, we will be repeating that predictable cycle. Ending this support would say a lot — none of it favorable — about how we prioritize the needs of children and families in America, and in particular, our commitment to undoing the damage caused by structural racism and discrimination against children and families of color. … [T]oday, universal school meals are merely a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound. Whether they become a permanent fixture of our nation’s efforts to end childhood poverty and hunger, improve children’s health and help children reach their full potential and thrive is up to us. There is no better or more important time to make the right choice.”

There’s No Free Lunch | Max Eden, AEI

“There is a strong case for having the government provide food to children whose parents can’t afford to feed them adequately, but that’s not the question at hand. The question is whether the government should feed children whose parents can afford it. … The children [who received free lunches in Ohio] had to contemplate the state as provider, rather than reflecting on how the love and labor of parents brought food to their plate. That experience shapes a child’s moral worldview, with human consequences that evade econometric analysis. Since the government, not the family, is already providing the education, the food may seem like a minor detail. But as the religions recognize, it carries significant meaning. … Progressives eager to expand school lunches, breakfasts, and dinners may be disappointed to discover that even after all the heavily touted efforts to make school lunches more local and nutritious, what gets served in school cafeterias remains heavily influenced by Big Agriculture and its lobbyists.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

Election results from the past week

Two California school districts held special elections on April 12. Results are preliminary. 

Andy Levine won the election with 55.87% of the vote. Daniel Renteria, Russ Allen, and Andrew Fabela received 21.35%, 11.68%, and 11.09% of the vote, respectively. 

Araceli Lopez defeated Jesus Silos 62.96% to 37.04%. 

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days   

April 15

The filing deadline is for primary elections that will occur on July 19.

April 27

The filing deadline is for an election that will occur on May 17.

Upcoming school board elections

Newark Public Schools in New Jersey is holding a school board general election on April 19. Districts in Tennessee are holding primary elections on May 3. Districts in Texas are holding general elections on May 7

Click the links below to learn more about elections in each election.

New Jersey

Tennessee 

Texas 

  • Click here to learn about each of the races in the 47 districts within our coverage holding elections on May 7 

School board candidates per seat up for election

For the 244 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.25 candidates are running for each seat.

Education on the ballot: a look at this year’s education-related ballot measures

We’ve talked a lot about school board elections in this newsletter. Today, let’s look at the statewide education-related ballot measures voters will decide in November. 

As of April 2022, six statewide education-related ballot measures have been certified for the ballot. All six measures will be decided on Nov. 8. In 2020, eight education-related measures were certified for the ballot. Voters approved two and defeated six.

Ballot measures have been certified in the following states:

  • Arizona: In-state tuition for non-citizen residents
  • Massachusetts: Funding for education and transportation
  • Nevada: Increases a state sales tax to fund public education 
  • New Mexico: Funds early childhood education
  • Rhode Island: Amendment concerning public education and libraries
  • West Virginia: Amendment requiring the State Board of Education to submit rule and policy changes to the legislature

There are several ways ballot measures can get on the ballot. The two most common methods are citizen-initiated measures, which typically require citizens to collect a certain number of signatures, and legislatively referred measures, which require a state legislature to vote to put a measure on the ballot. Click here to read more about the different types of ballot measures. 

In a future edition of this newsletter, we’ll take a look at the proposed measures dealing with education that might still qualify for the November ballot. 

Arizona In-State Tuition for Non-Citizen Residents Measure

The ballot measure would allow non-citizen students, except those considered to be nonresident aliens under federal law, to receive in-state college tuition when a student (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona.

The ballot measure would repeal provisions of Proposition 300, which voters approved in 2006. Proposition 300 said non-citizens could not receive certain state-subsidized services, benefits, or financial aid or in-state tuition rates.

Path to the ballot: State Sen. Paul Boyer (R) filed the ballot measure as Senate Concurrent Resolution 1044. On March 4, 2021, the Arizona State Senate voted 17-13 to pass SCR 1044. Senate Democrats and three Republicans supported the resolution. The remaining 13 Republicans opposed the bill. The Arizona House of Representatives voted 33-27 to approve SCR 1044 on May 10, 2021. House Democrats, along with four Republicans, supported the resolution. The remaining 27 Republicans opposed the resolution.

Massachusetts Income Tax for Education and Transportation Amendment 

The measure would create an additional 4% tax on the portion of income above $1 million to fund public education, roads and bridges, and public transportation. The tax would be levied in addition to the state’s 5% flat income tax, for a total tax rate of 9% on income above $1 million. The amendment would also authorize the $1 million threshold to be indexed to the cost of living in Massachusetts using the same method used to establish federal income brackets. The tax would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Path to the ballot: The Massachusetts General Court held a joint session on June 9, 2021, where they approved the amendment by a vote of 159-41. The amendment was introduced in the 2021 legislative session as Senate Bill 5. All but one Republican, Sen. Patrick O’Connor, voted against the amendment, and all but nine Democrats favored it. The sole Independent member, Rep. Susannah Whipps, voted in favor of it.

Nevada Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative

This initiative has been the subject of a lawsuit. The Clark County Education Association, which sponsored this initiative, requested to withdraw the initiative after a legislative compromise was reached. In October 2021, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) said the law did not allow her to remove the initiative from the ballot after certification. On March 9, 2022, District Court Judge James Wilson ordered Cegavske to withdraw the initiatives and not put them on the 2022 ballot. Cegavske’s office said it would appeal the decision on March 15. Read more about the lawsuit here

This initiative would increase the state’s Local School Support Tax, a sales tax, from the current 2.25% to 3.75% with revenue dedicated to public schools. Currently, the total Local School Support Tax sales and use tax rate is 2.6%. The new total Local School Support Tax would be 4.1%.

Path to the ballot: Kenny Belknap filed this initiative with the Nevada Secretary of State on January 15, 2020. In February 2020, BizPac, the political action committee of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, challenged the ballot language submitted by initiative petitioners. Sponsors of the initiative filed a new version of the initiative on March 24, 2020, and reported submitting over 190,000 signatures to county election officials on November 17. On December 15, 2020, county officials verified 137,791 of the 190,192 submitted signatures for the petition, about a 72.4% validity rate. The measure was certified for the ballot after the Nevada State Legislature did not choose to vote on the indirect initiative prior to the March 12, 2021 deadline.

New Mexico Funding for Early Childhood Programs Amendment

The measure would allocate 1.25% of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to early childhood education and public education. Sixty percent of the allocated funds would go to early childhood education, while 40% would go to public education. 

The LGPF is also known as the Permanent School Fund. Revenue in the LGPF comes from leases and royalties on non-renewable natural resources, such as oil and gas, and returns on invested capital. It was established when New Mexico became a state in 1912. 

The New Mexico Constitution established an annual 5% distribution from the fund, with the proceeds given to 21 designated beneficiaries. The amendment would increase the annual distribution to 6.25%. The amendment also says that if the average year-end market value for the preceding five years of the LGPF dropped to $17 billion, allocations would be halted until the fund amount increased. Between 2016 and 2020, the average year-end market value for the fund was $18 billion 

The amendment would also require Congressional approval because the LGPF was established by federal law and did not initially include early childhood education as a beneficiary.

Path to the ballot: This amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 1 on January 19, 2021. On February 12, 2021, the state House passed HJR 1 in a vote of 44-23 with three absent. On March 18, 2021, the state Senate passed an amended version in a vote of 26-16. The vote was along party lines, except Sen. Bill G. Tallman was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment. The state House concurred on March 19. The state House vote details listed below are from the House floor vote prior to the amendment.

Rhode Island Right to Education Amendment

This amendment would establish a “fundamental right to a public education and the duty to promote public libraries” and require that the legislature ensure the education is equitable, adequate, and meaningful for each child. It would also authorize any person or entity to sue the state if the state is not in noncompliance with the amendment.

Path to the ballot: This amendment was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2095 on January 25, 2022. On March 15, 2022, the state Senate passed SJR 2095 in a vote of 36-0, with two not voting.

West Virginia Legislative Approval of the State Board of Education Rules Amendment 

This amendment would change the state constitution to include a requirement that the West Virginia State Board of Education’s rules and policies must be submitted to the legislature for review and approval, amendment, or rejection according to a process determined by the legislature by law.  

The State Board of Education is a nine-member board with nine-year terms. members are gubernatorial appointees requiring Senate confirmation.  The board sets rules and policies governing the public school education system and county boards of education.

Path to the ballot: In 2022, state Rep. Paul Espinosa (R-66) introduced a constitutional amendment as House Joint Resolution 102 (HJR 102). The House passed the resolution on February 22, in a vote of 80 to 18, with two absent. On February 28, the Senate approved the measure with a technical amendment by a vote of 23 to 11, sending HJR 102 back to the House for concurrence. On March 3, the House concurred by a vote of 74 to 20, with six absent. The final votes in each chamber were largely along party lines. In the Senate, one Democrat joined 22 Republicans in support, and one Republican joined 10 Democrats in opposition. In the House, one Democrat joined all 73 voting Republicans in support, and the remaining 20 voting Democrats were opposed.

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