SAN FRANCISCO — Voters across the Far West region approved a medley of bond measures Tuesday, but they also showed a penchant for reining in government spending.
In Alaska, voters approved almost $1 billion of bond authority, with residents passing the $600 million Proposition A, which would provide funds for veteran residential mortgages, and Proposition B, which will provide $397 million of bonds for library, educational and research facilities.
Proposition A authorizes the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. to issue bonds that would provide mortgages to qualifying veterans. Proposition B would finance a $60 million sports arena at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and a $88 million bioscience building in Fairbanks, as well as several other campus and school projects around the state.
In California, voters approved four of nine statewide ballot measures, sending a mixed message to Sacramento in the process.
They approved Proposition 25, which permits the Legislature to adopt a budget with a majority vote, instead of the previous two-thirds supermajority, while retaining the requirement for a two-thirds vote to increase taxes.
At the same time they also approved Proposition 26, which imposes a new two-thirds vote requirement to impose user fees or service charges.
Voters handed redevelopment agencies a big win by approving Proposition 22, which bars the state government from taking local redevelopment funds, as it did to help balance the 2010 budget. The ballot measure would strengthen existing protections limiting the state’s ability to borrow property tax revenue from local governments.
Californians rejected a measure that would have legalized marijuana, and turned down a measure that would have repealed a business tax break adopted by the Legislature.
There were 66 local debt measures around the state, asking voters to approve $4.2 billion in bond authority. According to results available at press time, voters had approved 36 and rejected nine.
Washington voters demonstrated distaste for taxes and spending. They overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1053 from Tim Eyman, a perennial sponsor of anti-tax initiatives, which reinstates a requirement for lawmakers to approve tax increases by a two-thirds vote.
At the same time, they narrowed the Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature, making such a supermajority even harder to obtain.
Voters also shot down a measure that would have established an income tax on individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $400,000 a year.
Washington voters also rejected a $505 million bond measure for environmental projects at schools, which would have been financed by extending the sales tax for bottled water, which is scheduled to expire in 2013.
In addition, voters overturned a law passed by the Legislature this year adding taxes on candy and carbonated beverages, which will add about $70 million a year to the state’s structural budget deficit.
State voters did narrowly approve a proposal from Treasurer James McIntire to recalculate the state’s debt limit to allow Washington to issue its standard general obligation bonds as Build America Bonds, should that program be extended.
Voters in Oregon gave the green light to Measure 72, which allows the state to use GO bonds to fund projects that are now financed by certificates of participation, thereby lowering borrowing costs, according to the state treasurer’s office.
The state had 19 bonding measures on local ballots this November, worth around $424 million, and only five out of 19 passed.
Residents in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties rejected the largest of the measures, a $125 million proposal from TriMet, the public transit agency in the Portland metropolitan area.
Hawaii voters approved a ballot measure that would give lawmakers the option of putting any state budget surpluses into a rainy-day fund rather than refunding them to taxpayers.
In Montana, voters passed a ballot measure amending the constitution to ban real estate transfer taxes. There currently are no such taxes.