Education ballot measure fails, marijuana too close to call

Education ballot measure fails, marijuana too close to call

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — 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: