The future U.S. president wasn’t the only question on the November 8 ballot; many states also voted on issues related to higher education.
Student debt was at the forefront of this political election, with presidential and congressional candidates offering up their ideas for tackling the exorbitant debt with which many Americans graduate. Two state referenda aimed at mitigating the issue were rejected: Alaska defeated a referendum that would have allowed the state to issue bonds for postsecondary student loans, and Colorado rejected a tobacco tax increase that was intended for a student loan debt repayment fund.
Marijuana legality was on the ballot in several states, and several of these propositions were connected to education. Tax dollars generated from the legalization of medical marijuana in Arkansas and California will be dedicated to technical institutes and vocational schools in Arkansas and to a research fund on the law’s effectiveness in California.
Several states connected their tobacco referenda with higher education, including the rejected proposition in Colorado. California approved a tobacco tax increase that will fund medical education, with the goal of increasing the number of primary care and emergency physicians trained in the state. Missouri defeated a tobacco tax increase that would have benefitted university hospitals.
Other states created new bonds and investment programs that benefit higher education. New Mexico will issue $142 million in higher education and special school spending, Oregon will now allow investments in equities by public universities, and Rhode Island will issue $45.5 million in bonds to the University of Rhode Island.
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