NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How State Initiatives Fared

November 7, 2002

For the most part, voters were in no mood to adopt sweeping changes suggested by state initiatives this year. Maintaining the status quo was in; massive spending and social experimentation was out.

  • By wide margins, Oregon voters rejected a sweeping proposal to create a state-financed system of universal health care, and another proposal that would require labeling of genetically modified food products.
  • Voters in Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and South Dakota refused to relax drug laws -- while tax-related measures for major transportation projects in California, Virginia and Washington state were soundly rejected.
  • Voters in Montana and San Francisco rejected measures that would have put their jurisdictions into the public power business.
  • Santa Monica, Calif., voters defeated a so-called "living wage" proposal -- which would have required some tourist-oriented businesses to pay workers $10.50 an hour, plus benefits.

There were more than 200 initiatives on state and local ballots this year dealing with issues as diverse as bilingual education -- Massachusetts scrapped it, while Colorado preserved it -- and mass transit.

But when it came to programs for children, voters in two states bucked the generally conservative trend. California voters approved expanding before- and after-school programs, and Florida voters approved two constitutional amendments that would reduce over-crowding of classrooms and require the state to provide free pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds.

Source: Andrew Caffrey, Robert Gavin and Mitchel Benson, "Voters Reject Initiatives for Big Changes," Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2002.

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