LOS ANGELES — Tax and bond measures found success in California and Washington on Election Day.
Voters approved the $9 billion Proposition 51 state general obligation bond authorization for K-12 schools and community colleges.
Proposition 55, the extension of temporary income tax increase on earnings over $250,000, was approved by 62.1% of voters.
California voters also approved a cigarette tax with 62.1% in favor, according to unofficial returns, and voted to legalize recreational marijuana use with 62.5% voting in favor.
In the Bay Area, voters gave their approval to some big bond measures.
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority's Measure RR request for $3.5 billion of general obligation bonds to help overhaul the 44 year-old system appeared to have the supermajority needed to pass with just over 70% of voters giving it the go-ahead. The bond had support from local leaders, including California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
San Francisco's Proposition A, to authorize $744 million of school bonds, cruised to passage with 79% support. It needed only 55% to win.
San Francisco also voted to approve the redirection of about $260 million of bonds originally authorized for seismic improvements in 1992 toward affordable housing. That measure, Proposition C, needed a two-thirds vote and got about 76%. And while San Francisco gave approval to Proposition J to set up a fund to address homelessness and transportation, voters said no to a 0.75% sales tax increase to raise money for it. A one-cent per ounce sugary beverage tax did pass with 62% support.
In Los Angeles County, Measure M, a half-cent sales tax for transportation, appeared to have cleared the two-thirds supermajority it needed.
California Democrats' hopes of winning a supermajority in the state legislature seem likely to be shattered by one close race.
Democrats are leading in 55 races in the Assembly, which would give them one more seat than needed for a supermajority in that house. But Assemblywoman Ling Lang Chang, R-Diamond Bar, is ahead by 2%, or 3,887, in her race against Democrat Josh Newman to replace Republican state Sen. Bob Huff.
A Chang win would leave Democrats one vote short of the 27 needed for a supermajority in the state Senate.
A supermajority would give Democrats the ability to raise taxes, place measures on the statewide ballot, and enact laws immediately with an "urgency" clause and override a governor's veto.
In Nevada, both the Assembly and Senate switched from Republican to Democratic control.
In Washington, a majority of state senators are now Democrats, though Republicans will have functional control as one Democrat will caucus with the Republicans, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Washington state voters selected Republican Benton County Treasurer Duane Davidson to the statewide treasurer job over fellow Republican Michael Waite by a resounding 59%-41% margin. Davidson, who campaigned as a non-partisan who wouldn't battle with the state legislature, will become the state's first Republican treasurer since 1957 when he replaces incumbent Democrat James McIntire. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee held onto his office with a 56%-44% margin.
Voters in the Seattle region in unofficial returns also appeared to be passing Sound Transit 3, a package of property, sales and car-registration taxes to finance expanded rail and bus transit services.
Voters rejected a carbon tax coupled with a 1% sales tax decrease, sending that measure down to defeat by 59%-41% margin in the latest tally. A $456 million King County school bond measure was hovering on the edge of passage, sitting at 59.75% approval Wednesday morning with a 60% margin needed to pass.
California's $9 billion school bond passed without support from Gov. Jerry Brown, though he did not actively campaign against it.
"With the passage of Proposition 51, the strong and successful partnership between the state and local communities will continue to fund school facilities projects– resulting in better classrooms for kids, good paying jobs for Californians, and increased funds for school districts," said Don Hofer, Chairman of the California Building Industry Association in a statement.
Brown argued against a new state school bond before a complete overhaul of the system the state uses to decide which K-12 schools and community colleges get state GO bond funds, saying the current process is too complicated and favors large and wealthy school districts over smaller and poorer ones.
Brown did put his resources into fighting Proposition 53, the measure that would require a statewide vote on revenue bonds over $2 billion, and was rewarded with its defeat.
About 51.4% vote 'no' on the measure after Brown campaigned heavily against the measure in commercials broadcast in the final two weeks before the election.
Despite protestations by Dean Cortopassi, the agriculture magnate who paid to put the measure on the ballot, it is widely believed that the measure was aimed at the high-speed rail and Delta water tunnel projects, both Brown favorites.
Fitch Ratings Director of U.S. Public Finance Shannon Groff said the failure of Proposition 53 removes a hurdle for California's water infrastructure projects:
"The apparent voter strike down of Proposition 53 removes a large potential hurdle facing the California Water Fix," she said in a statement Wenesday. "It assures that the state's water policymakers will have the tools necessary to implement the California Water Fix, although they still face an uphill battle to secure the full approval and financial backing necessary to implement the plan."
With an estimated more than 90% of votes counted in Oregon, incumbent Gov. Kate Brown declared victory as the first LGBT governor to win election, defeating Republican challenger Bud Pierce by a 50%-44% margin. Brown originally assumed the office when John Kitzhaber resigned, elevating her from the position of Secretary of State. Democrat Tobias Read held a 44%-42% edge over Republican Jeff Gudman in the treasurer's race as of Wednesday morning, with Independent Party of Oregon candidate Chris Telfer tallying 9%. Democrats were on track to maintain control of both chambers of the state legislature.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, narrowly defeated Republican Greg Gianforte 50%-47% to win re-election.