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Michigan’s 10 least-popular constitutional proposals since 1963

These 10 proposals got an overwhelmingly negative response at the ballot box

Michigan voters have decided the fate of 82 proposals to amend the current state constitution, which was adopted in 1963.

Out of the 82 proposals offered since the last constitutional convention, voters rejected 46. Here are the top ten worst-performing amendments based on the number of votes, not percentage. All appeared on a general election ballot in the month of November. The descriptions below are based on Michigan Manual.

No. 10 faced voters in 2000. It lost by a margin of 1,306,479 votes. If it had passed, the amendment would have required a two-thirds legislative vote to enact laws affecting local governments.

No. 9, which appeared on the 1978 ballot, would have made it unconstitutional to use property taxes to pay for school operating expenses. It also would have established a voucher system for financing education at both public and nonpublic schools. It lost by 1,357,143 votes.

No. 8 would have created a department of state police. Voters rejected it by a margin of 1,390,887 votes in 1982. The amendment would have also provided for the department’s personnel, prescribed its duties, and established minimum-staffing requirements. The state police have existed since 1917, according to its website. This provision would have promoted the state police from a statutorily recognized department to a constitutionally mandated one.

No. 7 would have allowed the state to create a graduated (“progressive”) income tax system. This proposal appeared on the 1968 ballot, and it was defeated by a margin of 1,410,226 votes.

No. 6 was another attempt to permit the state to impose a graduated income tax, offered in 1976. It was defeated by 1,434,733 votes, close to the margin of defeat of the 1968 ballot measure.

No. 5 was the first of several appearances for the question of whether the state should hold a constitutional convention. This question came up in 1978, as required by the 1963 constitution. Voters rejected it by 1,472,263 votes, and they have rejected similar questions several times since then.

If No. 4 had passed, the state could have indirectly supported students in nonpublic schools. This proposal on the 2000 ballot lost by 1,531,787 votes.

No. 3 was a 2012 proposal that would have required a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Legislature — or of the people in a statewide ballot — to impose new state taxes. It was shot down by a margin of 1,694,705 votes.

The runner-up for the worst-performing ballot proposal was on the 1976 ballot. This one would have lowered the minimum age requirement for state representatives or senators from 21 years to 18 years. The measure lost by 1,881,952 votes. The federal constitution stipulates the federal age minimum to become a U.S. representative is 25 years old. To be elected as a U.S. senator, one must be at least 30 years old, and 35 to be elected as president.

Standing at No. 1 for the worst-performing of 82 proposed was a question that appeared in 1980, which lost by 2,023,470 votes. It would have made local school boards responsible for school personnel and programs. It would have also reduced the maximum amount that schools could levy on local property owners for their operational purposes.

The ballot question had other provisions: provide additional property tax relief for retirees and require the state to raise revenues necessary to have equal per-pupil funding of public schools.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.