Vouchers for private schools flunked at the ballot box, but voters decided they're ready to borrow or bet to raise money for public education.
Measures to provide vouchers were soundly defeated Tuesday in Michigan and California, bowing to strong opposition by teachers' unions and the governors of both states.
"The answer to improving public schools is staying on the path that we are on," said California Gov. Gray Davis.
The California proposal was a sweeping plan to provide any child -- rich or poor -- with a $4,000 voucher for private school tuition. Michigan's program would have helped only those in failing public school districts.
Vouchers were among more than 200 issues on the ballot in 42 states. The measures included about two dozen education issues as well as proposals affecting taxes, gambling, gay rights, abortion, term limits, hunting and drugs.
-- Rejected a bid to make Maine the second state in the nation to allow physician-assisted suicide. The proposal was modeled after an Oregon law.
-- Approved measures in Nevada and Nebraska to define marriage to rule out same-sex civil unions, such as those approved this year in Vermont.
-- Defeated measures to curb growth in Arizona and Colorado. Arizona's proposal called for cities and counties of more than 2,500 residents to adopt 10-year growth limits and force developers to pay for roads, schools and other services to new subdivisions.
-- Approved background checks for all gun buyers at gun shows in Colorado and Oregon. Both states had experienced high school shooting rampages.
The Colorado proposal was backed by Tom Mauser, whose son was one of 13 people killed last year at Columbine High School by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who got some of their arsenal at a gun show.
While school vouchers were defeated, voters were more generous when it came to public education.
North Carolina approved $3.1 billion in bonds for higher education. It was the biggest bond issue in state history.
And South Carolina approved a state lottery to help fund education with an estimated $150 million a year and recapture millions of dollars that state voters spend on the Georgia lottery.
But Bible-belt Arkansas rejected a lottery, along with casinos and charity bingo, even though proceeds were earmarked for education. Gov. Mike Huckabee said that government becomes "a pimp" when it uses lotteries to help fill its treasury.
sales taxes for income taxes.
In two states on the opposites ends of the country, ballot questions about gay-related issues were on the ballot.
In Maine, voters narrowly rejected a measure which would have protected homosexuals from discrimination. Oregon voters were asked to forbid public school teachers from encouraging, promoting or sanctioning homosexuality. The measure was too close to call Wednesday morning.
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