The November 2023 elections provided several wins for kids at both state and local levels. Learn more about the measures we were watching and what they mean for children and families in the recap below.

Colorado—State Proposition II:Tobacco and Nicotine Product Tax Revenue Measure

Election Result: Passed 67.53% yes, 32.47% no

Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved State Proposition II in November, which allows the state to keep excess funds collected from taxes on liquid nicotine products and tobacco products and invest those funds in the new state preschool program Universal Preschool Colorado.

The approved measure is a follow-up to Colorado’s Proposition EE, which voters passed in November 2020. That measure closed a tax loophole on nicotine products, such as liquid nicotine for vaping, and increased the existing tax on tobacco products. The revenue is dedicated to health and education programs including the new state universal preschool program.

Revenue from this new tax exceeded expectations over the first two years by more than $24 million. Due to a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment to the Colorado state constitution passed in 1992, the state must seek voter approval to retain and spend revenue above initial projections presented in Proposition EE’s ballot language. Despite challenges with the rollout of Universal Preschool Colorado over the past year, voters showed they want the extra funds to support kids rather than return the excess revenue to nicotine and tobacco wholesalers and retail businesses.

Texas—Proposition 2: Property Tax Exemption for Child Care Facilities Amendment

Election Result: Passed 64.78% yes, 35.22% no

Texas child care advocates won the option for local governments to provide property tax relief for some child care providers in the state this year. Proposition 2 amends the state constitution to enable county and municipal governments to exempt eligible child care centers from some or all property taxes, with a minimum exemption of 50%. While the amendment’s authorizing action does not provide new revenue to the child care system, tax exemptions may ease the burden for struggling child care providers and incentivize providers to continue providing subsidized care, as only center-based providers that fill at least 20% of their slots with children who qualify for subsidies are eligible. County or municipal tax jurisdictions where child care facilities operate must pass additional legislation for providers to receive the exemption.

The statewide ballot measure may also provide some momentum to the children’s funding movement in Texas, as advocates at both the state and local levels worked together to build support for the issue. The City of Austin became the first to pass local legislation that will provide a complete exemption from property taxes for child care facilities. The Austin City Council passed a resolution just two days after the November election.

Denver, CO—Referred Question 2P

Election Result: Passed 78.18% yes, 21.82% no

Voters in Denver overwhelmingly renewed, and made permanent, the 0.15% sales tax dedicated to the Denver Preschool Program. The program, established after voters approved an initial 10-year 0.12% sales tax in 2006, provides tuition assistance for Denver families of 3- and 4-year-old children. In 2014, voters approved an increase and renewed the sales tax for an additional 10 years. In recent years, research demonstrated that children supported by the Denver Preschool Program are more likely than their peers to read on grade level, and less likely to be chronically absent in kindergarten or need to repeat a year, among other results. With the passage of Referred Question 2P, the dedicated tax revenue will be sustained indefinitely with no need to seek renewal from voters. As additional preschool funding from Colorado’s statewide Propositions EE and II reaches early learners in Denver, the Denver Preschool Program will complement Universal Preschool Colorado by offering more full-day and extended-day slots for 4-year-olds and expanding a 2022 pilot that provided 350 3-year-olds with child care.

Monroe County, IN—Monroe County Community School Corporation Referendum

Election Result: Passed 50.52% yes, 49.48% no

Voters in Monroe County, IN, passed a Monroe County Community School Corporation property tax increase of 8.5 cents on $100 of assessed value by a razor-thin margin of just over 100 votes. While the estimated $8.5 million in new revenue will fund various district needs in the K-12 system, the district’s superintendent has pledged a majority of the funding to support education for 3- and 4-year-old children. The district has pledged to provide free or reduced cost preschool for all 4-year-olds in the district, and free preschool for 3-year-olds whose families meet the income guidelines for free or reduced price lunch.

Pueblo, CO—Ballot Issue 2A

Election Result: Failed 45.71% yes, 54.29% no

The City of Pueblo sought to increase its local lodging tax, which is applied to the rental of hotel and motel rooms, by 1.5% to fill a child care assistance gap for low to middle income families. The revenue would have established a local fund to provide child care assistance to families who exceed the income eligibility requirements for the Child Care Assistance Program. Voters rejected the measure in a low turnout election.

A growing number of communities in Colorado are exploring lodging taxes as a mechanism to support early child care and education. In 2022, the state of Colorado passed enabling legislation for counties and local marketing districts to spend lodging tax revenue on child care and housing, which was previously restricted to promoting tourism in these jurisdictions.

Richmond, VA—Casino Gaming Referendum

Election Result: Failed 38.38% yes, 61.62% no

On November 7, voters in Richmond, VA, rejected the construction of a casino within city limits by a large margin. While the referendum referred only to the construction and operation of the proposed casino, the Richmond City Council passed a proposal in September to use casino tax revenue to create a Richmond Child Care and Education Trust Fund. The city would have received a large upfront payment from casino developers and promised to use $18.5 million to build new child care facilities and seed the Child Care and Education Trust Fund, to which future tax revenue would be directed. The city rejected a previous casino proposal at the ballot in 2021.

Dan Whitaker is a senior policy associate at Children’s Funding Project.