Amendment 3 Falls, Hard
With the unexpected result of the Presidential election and big-ticket statewide races, I don’t blame you if you missed the result of the Amendment 3 initiative petition.
We here at the Show-Me Institute were very interested in Amendment 3 because the issue was so complex and multifaceted. From the funding mechanism (cigarette taxes) to the policy it would support (early childhood education) there was more to the question than met the eye.
Now the people of Missouri have spoken, and by a 60% to 40% margin (as of this moment), they soundly rejected Amendment 3.
There is much parsing of this election to be done, but I do want to offer a couple of quick reactions:
- Missouri does not like cigarette taxes. Not only did Amendment 3 fail, but so did Proposition A, a much smaller cigarette tax (by a 55% to 45% margin). These initiatives are just two in a long line of cigarette taxes that the state has voted down. At 17 cents, Missouri has one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation, and it appears we want to keep it that way.
- Voters can read between the lines. At first glance, it looked like Amendment 3 would win in a walk. According to Ballotpedia, the first polling on this issue back in July had the issue winning 53% to 29%. As more and more information came out and voters became more informed about the issue, that support eroded and eventually became opposition.
- Ideas matter. Not all of the campaign finance numbers are in, but according to Ballotpedia numbers, the “Yes” campaign outspent the “No” campaign by a wide margin, $12.8 million to $5.7 million. But it was to no avail. In the end, the arguments matter more than the spending, and the proposal failed.
I don’t think we need to close the door on pre-K, though my colleague Emily Runge’s piece earlier this week has definitely caused me to temper enthusiasm for it (which I didn’t have a great deal of to begin with). We do need to think long and hard about how we structure it and pay for it. As we argued in 20 for 2020, a voucher-based system that puts students and parents in charge is the best way to structure pre-K if we’re going to do it, and we should be skeptical of any plan that does otherwise.