The Votes That Really Count

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Meanwhile, Florida and Idaho will be deciding on what to do with the tobacco settlement revenues. The former will choose whether or not to dedicate 15 percent of the money to a tobacco education and prevention fund. The latter would choose if the state should create a new endowment fund that would receive 80% of the settlement money and support schools and higher education and give the remaining 20% to the Idaho Millennium Fund, which will finance tobacco prevention and treatment programs.

Lastly, following the path of 15 other states, voters in four states will decide on increasing taxes on tobacco products to help benefit health care programs. If history is any guide, the proposals will pass easily. No proposed tobacco tax increase has failed to pass in any state since 1994.

States Voting: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota.


Six states will choose whether to create increases above the federal minimally required wage of $5.15 per hour. Each of the ballot proposals provide for an increase based on annual inflation.

The ballots will allow for raises of hourly wages ranging from $6.15 to $6.85, except in Nevada, where voters can choose to hold it at $5.15 per hour, provided the employer offers health benefits. Advocates of minimum wage increases believe that the vote could well set the precedent for a new federal increase next year, though opponents continue to insist that raising the wage will hurt businesses, and as a result, slow job growth.

"Part of what is driving the initiative is that the minimum wage is at its lowest real value in over 50 years," says Liana Fox, economic analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank that focuses on economic issues. "Due to federal inaction, we"re seeing the lowest buying power in a long time."

Fox says more than 1.5 million workers would benefit from a minimum wage increase, as well as 652,000 children, with a cost increase for businesses at less than 1%. She explains that if the initiatives passed in all six states, 70% of the U.S. workforce would live in states that require a minimum wage above the federal level. Thus, it's no surprise that candidates from both parties have aligned themselves with the issue.

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