Utah voters rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have boosted education funding through a gas tax in a state that has the lowest per pupil spending in the nation.
Three other ballot initiatives were leading, but too close to be declared victorious at the end of election night: Medical marijuana legalization, Medicaid expansion and the creation of a new redistricting commission.
The education funding ballot question that failed was crafted as part of a compromise between lawmakers and an education group that initially wanted to take a different plan to voters.
Under the plan, a 10-cent gas tax increase would have given public schools about $100 million more annually, or about $150 per student.
The Utah chapter of Americans for Prosperity, founded billionaire conservative David Koch, opposed the plan. The group argued that lawmakers should me more efficient with existing funds rather than raising taxes for residents.
As part of the compromise, lawmakers have already taken different steps including a property tax increase to increase education funding.
Nolan Karras of the Our Schools Now organization that pushed the ballot question said in a statement that the group regrets not winning but note that a new political coalition has now been created to promote public education funding. Karras said the group will continue to work with state leaders to find alternatives to a gas tax to get more education funds and investments in teachers.
A closer look at the three other ballot issues that were too close to call by late Tuesday:___
A ballot initiative that would legalize medical marijuana was leading as of Tuesday night.
Win or lose, state leaders have vowed to join 30 other states in legalizing pot for people with certain conditions.
After months of fierce debate and campaigning, Mormon church leaders, state lawmakers and the governor — all opponents of the initiative — reached a compromise before the election with medical marijuana advocates in which they agreed on parameters for a law that suited all sides.