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School bonds fared lower approval ratings with nearly $8 billion voted on in 2011

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January 10, 2012

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its laws governing school bond and tax votes

2011 elections
School bonds & taxes (Part 1) & (Part 2)
2011 Election stats
County website evals.

By Bailey Ludlam

The number of state ballot measures that appeared before voters in 2011 was certainly on the slim side. Local measures, however, skyrocketed. The number of measures more than doubled in 2011 from 1,490 to 3,778.

Despite the vast increase in ballot proposals, the total average approval rating of measures stayed practically the same as 2010's 72.5% rating. It dropped slightly by 0.8% in 2011.

Of the thousands of local school issues observed in 2011, a grand total of 993 were school bond and tax issues. School bond questions carried $7.79 billion in bonds. Roughly 38% or $2.95 billion was approved.

"Despite the increase in local measures up for a vote, it's clear that residents favored passing proposals unrelated to school bond and tax issues. Those issues saw a much lower approval rating in 2011," said Johanna Herman, the lead researcher for the study.

As a whole, school bond & tax measures when compared to all local measures (city, county, school bonds, etc) that were up for a vote in 2011, had a lower approval rating. Local measures were approved by 71.7%, while school bond & tax measures had an average approval rating of only 66.3% for the year (46.6% for August-December 2011).

In 2011, a total of 658 school bond & tax measures were approved, 335 were defeated. The total approval rating for school bond and tax measures is roughly 66.3% for the entire year of 2011.

Compared to bond questions that appeared before voters during the period of August and December in 2010, 2011 certainly saw a small increase of +4.8% in approval ratings. The approval rating is also a shift from the January-August period in 2011 when the rating was -7.4% compared to the same period in 2010.

In order to provide a consistent look at local measures, Ballotpedia analyzes the same 11 states every year. According to Herman, the 11 states included in the study were chosen because of their relative ease of access to information about school bond and tax elections.

States included in the study: Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

However, it must be noted that in some states, although detailed coverage of local measures is not available, at time results are in state government databases. In such cases, we supplement our statistics with the additional information in order to provide a better picture of local measure approval ratings.

School bonds and taxes, Part 2

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Of the 11 states tracked in detail by the report, only Illinois and Florida did not to have any school measures on their local ballots in the second half of 2011 (August - December, 2011). Illinois, however, did have measures in the first half of the year.

The overall approval rate, including both "school bond" and "tax" votes that occurred in nine of the 11 monitored states[1] was 46.6% and the adjusted approval rate was 68.1%. The adjusted rate refers to the addition of the states of New Mexico and Texas with their election information about school bonds for the entire year of 2011. (Note: This rating does not include votes on school budget issues.)

The average approval rating for "school tax" votes had the lowest overall approval rating with the average being 47.9% in the nine states[1] with school tax votes. The average approval rating for "school bond elections" was higher with an approval rating set at 57.1% in a total of 11 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin).

Type of school finance measure # of elections 2011 (2010) # of approvals 2011 (2010)  % approved 2011 (2010)
Bonds 85 (48) 36 (49) 42.4% (49.5%)
Taxes, tax levies 280 (184) 134 (139) 47.9% (56.97%)
Totals: 365 (232) 170 (323) 46.6% (41.8%)
Bonds (Adjusted)[2] 166 75 68.9%
Totals: 446 (232) 209 (323) 67.1% (41.8%)

Total Approval ratings for 2011:
For the entire year of 2011, 658 school bond & tax measures were approved, 335 were defeated. The total approval rating for school bond and tax measures is roughly 66.3%.

Look at stats for January-August 2011 here.

$7.79 billion on ballot in 2011

The table below shows how much money was voted on in bond measures for local schools. The amounts show how much bond money was approved in the state and how much did not get approved, totals are in millions and includes ALL the measures in 2011, NOT just the second half of the year.

Only the state of Florida did not have any school bonds for the year, of the ten that did have school bond elections only two, Arizona and Missouri, had approval ratings above 50%. California is the only state which had a higher number of bonds approved but had more money defeated than approved.

Legend


     Winning percentage above 70%     Winning percentage below 50%

State Amount Approved Amount Defeated  % approved
Arizona $709.8 M $54.8 M 93%
California $981.1 M $1,392 M 41%
Colorado $105 M $696.62 M 13%
Illinois $39.27 M $326.66 M 11%
Michigan $374.45 M $667.06 M 36%
Missouri $204.09 M $16.425 M 93%
Ohio $202.3 M $445.11 M 31%
Oregon $244.5 M $738.8 M 25%
Washington $91.49 M $224.7 M 29%
Wisconsin $88.105 M $278.295 M 25%
Totals: $2,945.11 million $4,840.47 million 37.8%

Other local measures

School bonds and tax issues weren't the only measures up for a vote in 2011. At least 13 different topics appeared before voters.

county property taxescounty bondscounty sales taxcity property taxcity sales taxcity utility taxcity bondshotel taxdistrict property tax
election and votingmarijuanacharter amendments and annexation

Like school bonds, 11 states were thoroughly tracked throughout the year. Including all of the above stated topics (and school measures), Ohio by far had the most measures with a total of 2,095 that appeared on ballots in 2011. However, the state of Florida took first place in approval ratings; 84% of the proposed measures were approved.

Of the 13 topics, city property taxes surfaced the most frequently on ballots. A grand total of 1,014 city property tax measures appeared in the states listed below.

Compared to 2010's statistics, the overall approval rating dropped by 0.8% in 2011. However, there was a significant spike in the number of proposals as compared to 2010's count of 1,490. In the nine states tracked, we saw an estimated increase of 2,288 measures to 3,778.

Legend


     Winning percentage above 70%     Winning percentage below 50%

State Approved 2011 (2010) Defeated 2011 (2010)  % approved 2011 (2010)
Arizona 54 39 58%
California 101 46 69%
Colorado 93 73 56%
Florida 88 17 84%
Illinois 87 62 58%
Michigan 363 126 75%
Missouri 22 13 63%
Ohio 1,577 518 75%
Oregon 57 38 60%
Washington 222 84 73%
Wisconsin 43 35 55%
Totals: 2,707 (1,080) 1,071 (410) 71.7% (72.5%)


Click here for the full breakdown! - school bonds & taxes and comprehensive stats for 2011

See also

Ballotpedia News

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Including Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin
  2. Note: The Adjusted number includes two additional states, New Mexico, and Texas which have state databases giving election results for school bond proposals held throughout the year. The two additional state statistics are for the entire year of 2011, not split as the other states have been.