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Bond Measures on the Ballot

Bond Measures on Statewide Ballots

dollar bills

Updated Nov. 7, 2012, 4:34am MST

Overview

A general obligation bond is essentially an IOU from the state. When you buy a G.O. bond, you are loaning money to the state, often to finance infrastructure projects. In return, the state promises to pay your loan back in a specified term, plus interest. In some states, voter approval is required before the state can issue general obligation bonds. In Maine, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas, there are almost always bond measures on the ballot in statewide general elections.


Statewide Bonds on the 2012 Ballot

Statewide ballots in 2012 featured 18 bonding propositions in nine states totaling just over $3.97 billion. Historical trends predicted that voters would approve about $3.2 billion, or 91 percent, of the total dollars proposed. It appears that an even higher number of bond measures have passed:  results are in on all measures except Question 2 in Maine, which is running very close but appears to be failing. If that result holds, voters will have approved $3.96 billion of the $3.97 proposed in statewide bonding, or 99.7 percent of the total. The 2012 statewide bond proposals include:
 

 
Statewide Bond Measures on the 2012 Ballot
 
State Measure # Topic Area Typea Pass/Fail

Alabama

Amendment 2

$750 million – job incentives and economic development

L Pass

Alaska

Proposition A $453,499,200 – transportation L Pass

Arkansas

Issue 1 $1.3 billion – transportation L Pass

Hawaii

HB 2594 Aid to dam & reservoir owners (amount not specified) L Fail

Maine

Question 2 $11.3 million – higher education L Undecided
(appears to be failing)

Maine

Question 3 $5 million – natural resources L Pass

Maine

Question 4 $51.5 million – transportation L Pass

Maine

Question 5 $7.925 million – drinking water L Pass

New Jersey

Question 2 $750 million – higher education L Pass

New Mexico

Bond Question A $10.335 million – senior citizen facilities L Pass

New Mexico

Bond Question B $9.83 million – libraries L Pass

New Mexico

Bond Question C $120 million – higher ed & special schools L Pass

Oklahoma

Question 764 $300 million – water infrastructure L Pass

Rhode Island

Question 3 $50 million – higher education L Pass

Rhode Island

Question 4 $94 million – veterans homes L Pass

Rhode Island

Question 5 $12 million – clean water L Pass

Rhode Island

Question 6 $20 million – environment & recreation L Pass

Rhode Island

Question 7 $25 million – affordable housing L Pass

Total bonding proposed in Nov. 2012

$3,970,389,200    

Total approved in Nov. 2012

$TBD (TBD%)    

a) Type: L = legislative referendum; I = citizen-initiated


Voter Behavior on Bond Issues

Voters tend to be very receptive toward statewide bonds, approving 91.2 percent of the total dollars of proposed bonding on the ballot between 1998-2011. The bond measures voters rejected are most often very high-dollar proposals. For instance, in 2003, voters approved just 10.4 percent of the total dollars proposed on the ballot. There were six statewide bond proposals on the ballot that year, and voters actually approved four of the six. The two they rejected were much higher in dollar value— $2 billion in Colorado, and $500 million in Ohio. In 2008, it was another year when the percentage of dollars approved was lower than the 91.2 percent average. That year, voters actually approved 14 of the 15 bond questions on statewide ballots. The one they rejected was a $5 billion proposal in California that would have funded alternative fuel and renewable energy projects. And in 2010, when voters approved just 64.7 percent of the total proposed bonding on statewide ballots, they actually approved 10 of the 12 proposals on the ballot. The two that were rejected were a $505 million proposal in Washington and a $155.5 proposal in New Mexico. Both would have funded higher education capital improvement projects.


Total Dollars Proposed and Approved, 1992 - 2011

The following chart shows the proportion of proposed statewide bonding that is approved and rejected by voters in each year.

Total Bonding Dollars Graph














 


History:  Proposed Statewide Bonds, 1998 - 2012

The following table summarizes bonding proposals that have appeared on statewide ballots between 1998 and 2012.

Year Total $ Proposed Total $ Approved % of Total $ Approved % of Total Proposals Approved Total # of Proposals # of States with Proposals

2012

$3,970,389,200 $TBD TBD% TBD% 18 9

2011

$6,800,000,000 $6,800,000,000 100% 100% 3 2

2010

$1,869,899,254 $1,209,322,430 64.7% 83.3% 12 5

2009

$671,250,000 $671,250,000 100% 100% 3 3

2008

$18,361,967,000 $13,361,967,000 72.8% 93.3% 15 8

2007

$10,534,000,000 $10,084,000,000 95.7% 90% 10 3

2006

$43,374,300,000 $43,370,300,000 99.9% 93.8% 16 5

2005

$4,983,000,000 $4,983,000,000 100% 100% 7 3

2004

$4,772,380,000 $4,706,880,000 98.6% 85.0% 20 5

2003

$2,789,400,000 $289,400,000 10.4% 66.7% 6 4

2002

$21,809,678,971 $21,767,083,971 99.8% 87.5% 24 10

2001

$3,786,700,000 $3,786,700,000 100% 100% 11 3

2000

$8,258,747,067 $4,432,534,567 53.7% 84.6% 13 4

1999

$1,054,362,031 $1,054,362,031 100% 100% 7 3

1998

$13,772,060,000 $13,770,410,000 99.9% 90.5% 21 10

Source:  National Conference of State Legislatures, November  2012

Key Ballot Measures

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