New Ballot Questions Set to Go Before Voters in FL, WA, and ME

Recently, legislatures in Florida, Maine, and Washington state have each decided to put new ballot measures up for a vote in November. In Maine and Washington, the voters will need to decide on bond measures. In Florida, the ballot question is a controversial state constitutional amendment to ease the limit on class size.

In Maine, the bond issue would provide for roughly $58 million in new borrowing to mainly pay for infrastructure improvements throughout the state. The measure had broad bipartisan support in the state legislatures, and needed it--to send a bond proposal before the voters, it must pass the state houses will two-thirds majorities.

The people in Washington state will get to vote on a $500 million bond that hopes to create thousands of new jobs in the field of construction by renovating schools and government buildings to make them more energy efficient. It will be partially paid for with an increased sales tax on bottled water.

Probably the most interesting of the three new ballot questions will be the state constitutional amendment in Florida. The ballot proposal was approved by the Republican legislature on nearly a party line vote, and would ease the constitutional requirement on maximum class size.

Back in 2002, by a margin of 52%-48%, voters approved a state constitutional amendment putting in place maximum class size limits. With the current economic downturn, supporters of the new amendment are promoting it as a way to deal with state and local financial deficits.

The amendment is opposed by the state teachers union and many Democrats lawmakers in the state who claim the voters have already spoken on the matter. Expect the amendment to be a serious partisan issue during the general election, especially because Kendrick Meek, who is likely to be the Democratic nominee for the US Senate race, led the effort to pass the original amendment back in 2002.

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