Ballot Measure Fears Unite Dems, GOP in Three States

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Colorado's independent Legislative Council has painted a gloomy picture if the measures succeed. It said lack of revenue would force the state to devote 92 percent of its budget on constitutionally mandated K-12 education funding, leaving little for higher education, prisons and human services.

Supporters of the tax-cutting measures maintain that the economy will grow because taxpayers will keep more of their money.

Similarly, backers of Massachusetts' Question 3 — which would cut the sales tax by more than half — say the measure would boost the economy and create jobs while forcing the state to live within its means.

Opponents have mounted a vigorous ad campaign, with teacher unions pumping more than $4 million into it as of mid-October.

The question has cropped up in the race for governor, with all three candidates saying it goes too far. Republican Charles Baker and independent Timothy Cahill say they support returning the sales tax rate to its previous level of 5 percent. Incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick said he also supports lowering the rate to 5 percent, when the state can afford it.

A brief look at some other noteworthy ballot items:

—California's Proposition 23 would suspend the state's landmark greenhouse gas emissions law until the unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent for a year. It is backed by out-of-state oil companies; foes include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and alternative-energy entrepreneurs.

—Measures in Oklahoma would declare English the state's "common and unifying language" and prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law, known as sharia, when deciding cases.

—Measures in Arizona and South Dakota would legalize medical marijuana — a step already taken by 14 other states.

—In the nation's smallest state, a measure would shorten its formal name to Rhode Island instead of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

—Arizona's ballot includes a measure that would ban affirmative action programs by state and local governments based on race, ethnicity and sex.

—Colorado voters will decide on an anti-abortion "personhood" amendment — similar to one they rejected in 2008 — that would give unborn fetuses human rights in the state constitution.

—In Illinois, where the two most recent former governors have been convicted on federal charges, a proposed constitutional amendment would give voters the power to recall future governors.

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