Tuesday’s election could have widespread economic effects in at least three states

November 4, 2013

A marijuana activist opens a container of joints, preparing to hand them out to attendees of a rally against Colorado’s proposed pot tax. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press.)

It may be an off-year for federal elections, but voters in some states face some major decisions on Tuesday.

Voters will weigh in on 31 initiatives and referenda in six states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some of the issues being considered are minor, others amount to nothing more than a glorified survey. But, as we reported in a series last week, a few could have significant economic effects, at least according to those arguing for and against them.

• In Colorado, voters will consider a pair of tax measures that would raise about $1 billion in the first year of implementation. Though voters there approved legalizing marijuana last year, they must approve the taxes to fund its regulation separately this year. If approved — and approval seems likely according to a spring poll — the new marijuana taxes would raise roughly $67 million annually, some of which will go to school construction and the local governments where marijuana shops operate. A separate income tax-hike measure would raise $950 million in the 2014 to 2015 budget year and largely go to education spending. Opposition to that measure leads support in various polls.

• In New Jersey, while polls suggest voters will likely overwhelmingly reelect Republican Gov. Chris Christie, they are also expected to approve a Democratic proposal he fought: one that would enshrine minimum wage hikes in the state constitution. Those opposed say it will act as a drag on hiring and hurt small businesses. Supporters say it will aid the economy as low-wage earners are likely to spend nearly all of that extra income. Support for the constitutional amendment led opposition by a more than 50-point margin in each of two late-September polls. The measure would amend the constitution first to raise the minimum wage by a dollar, to $8.25, and then set it to increase automatically with inflation.

• In Washington state, voters will finally resolve what has become a multi-million dollar fight over whether to require that genetically modified food be labeled. More than $27 million has been spent in the fight. More than $9 million has come from just two genetically-modified seed makers, Monsanto and DuPont, according to disclosure data. As The Seattle Times’s Brian M. Rosenthal reported over the weekend, just $550 has come from individuals and companies based in Washington. Those opposed to the measure argue that it will be overly burdensome for businesses. There was wide support for the measure in an early-September poll, but that lead shrank in recent weeks, according to one pollster. That recent poll showed the measure has 46 percent support, with 42 percent opposing.

Correction. A previous version of this post incorrectly cited a Bloomberg report on how much Monsanto and DuPont spent in opposition to the Washington measure. They’ve spent a combined $9.3 million.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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Reid Wilson | November 4, 2013