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Edited by Al Ortiz
While the 2012 ballot measure count remained unchanged this week following the last report's increase, the issue of taxes has started to take over news developments across the country.
Washington lawmakers are currently considering a 2012 measure that would implement a temporary, half-cent sales tax increase in the state. It is estimated that it would raise $500 million a year, which would be used to restore cuts made in the proposed budget; including K-12, higher education, health care, prisons, and social programs.
The temporary tax increase is being proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in efforts to close the $2 billion budget shortfall. According to news reports, the governor is aiming for a March 13, 2012 special election date. This would require a decision by the legislature by December 30, 2011.
A sales tax increase, based on the state's history, is a rare occurrence. If approved, the sales tax increase would mark the first sales tax increase in the State of Washington in 28 years. Additionally, Washington would be tied with five other states for the second-highest state sales tax (7 percent) according to the Washington Department of Revenue.
In efforts similar to that of his Washington counterpart, California Governor Jerry Brown is also planning to introduce a tax hike, but not with the state legislature. Instead, Brown has stated his intentions to propose the measure via the state citizens' initiative process.
Brown's proposal, revealed on December 4, would raise income taxes by 1% to 2% for state residents who make $250,000 or more, as well as increase the state sales tax by a half-cent for the next five years. The intentions behind Brown's proposal are to use the generated revenue to fund public education and assist local prisons in housing more inmates.
The initiative has not yet been filed with the California Attorney General.
Last week, it was reported that the first Massachusetts filing deadline passed on November 23, marking the first encounter of many obstacles supporters face in the state's initiative process. Although it was initially reported by state newspapers that three measures were planning to file signatures, the final outcome revealed that four proposals submitted signatures to local registrars that day.
The four measures include the "death with dignity" initiative, the proposal to require car manufacturers to give non-proprietary diagnostic directly to consumers to repair their cars, the initiative to create a new teacher evaluation process and the medical marijuana initiative.
The initiative process in the state of Massachusetts is among the most complicated in the country, leaving only a handful in recent years to go through the entire process. Read more about this process here.
Staying in New England, a proposal in the Maine Legislature concerning voter identification is now beginning to turn heads among state lawmaking officials. The measure would mandate that identification be shown before residents vote in an election. The bill was introduced in the state legislature during the 2011 state legislative session, and was carried over to the 2012 state legislative session. The bill's formal title is LD 199.
The measure is similar to the November 2011 voter-approved Mississippi Initiative 27. That measure passed with 62% of the vote.