Voters approve of Medicaid expansion and a minimum wage hike in these states
Voters in several states approved progressive measures that could not pass through a Democratic-led Congress or Republican-dominated state houses.
More low-income South Dakota residents will have access to Medicaid, and Arizona residents with medical debt will have more protections. Minimum Wage Workers in Nebraska will get a raise.
Here is a sample of the polling metrics:
South Dakota voters voted to expand Medicaid to about 42,500 low-income residents starting in mid-2023. The measure fell from 56% to 44%, according to data from the South Dakota secretary of state.
“The people of South Dakota know their families and neighbors deserve health care without going into debt or avoiding the tests, procedures and medications they need,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of The Fairness Project. , who supported the measure.
It is the seventh successful effort to expand Medicaid in Republican-led states, which began with the approval of Maine voters in 2017. Voting initiatives have also Missouri, Oklahoma, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah during the last years.
More than 60 organizations — including the South Dakota Farmers Union, the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and several health care and religious groups — have endorsed Amendment D. It will open coverage to adults earning less than about 19,000 $ per year.
Currently, childless adults are not eligible for Medicaid in South Dakota, and parents must be on very low incomes to be eligible — about $1,000 a month for a family of four.
By expanding Medicaid, South Dakota is expected to receive an additional $328 million in federal funds in the first year and generate 4,000 new jobs, according to Zach Marcus, campaign manager for South Dakotans Decide Healthcare, who advocated for the campaign measure. The state Legislative Research Council found last year that the expansion would save South Dakota $162.5 million over five years.
Many Republican officials opposed the measure, citing its potential future costs. States are responsible for picking up 10% of the health care tab from enrollees at the expansion.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, did not support the initiative, although she said she would implement it if voters approved it. An expansion bill failed in a state Senate vote earlier this year.
Until the vote, South Dakota was one of 12 states that had chosen not to expand Medicaid. The only remaining states where citizen vote initiatives might be possible are Florida and Wyoming, Hall said.
Nebraska voters have chosen to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 from $9 an hour now. The vote was 58% to 42% in favor, according to data from Nebraska’s secretary of state.
It is expected to benefit about 150,000 workers, according to the National Employment Law Project and the Economic Policy Institute, both of which are left-wing groups. About 75% of workers are over 20 years old.
The measure will provide those workers with an additional $2,100 in pay, said Kate Wolfe, campaign manager for Raise the Wage Nebraska. More than 25 organizations and legislators are part of the coalition that backed Initiative 433, backed by The Fairness Project.
“Initiative 433 was passed tonight because Nebraskanians understand that raising the minimum wage is about respecting and rewarding hard work,” Wolfe said.
In 2014, voters approved an election measure to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2016.
Opponents, however, said the initiative would hurt state businesses and reduce job opportunities for young people.
“The initiative’s proposed increase is a 66.7% increase over four years,” Bud Synhorst, CEO of the Lincoln Independent Business Association, wrote in a local trade publication last month. “It’s a radical increase that will be felt throughout the economy.”
In Nevada, some 54% of voters had voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to data from the Secretary of State. State of Nevada. The measure would also remove an existing provision setting different rates for the minimum wage depending on whether or not the employer offers certain health benefits.
Some 46% of voters were opposed to the measure on Wednesday evening.
CNN predicted Friday that the amendment would pass.
The state’s minimum wage is already set to increase to $12 an hour for workers who don’t receive certain health care benefits, and $11 an hour for those who do, in 2024.
Proponents of the initiative, Question 2 on the Ballot, said workers should have a constitutional guarantee of a $12 hourly minimum wage, preventing lawmakers from reducing it in the future. Opponents argued the change was unnecessary because the state legislature already has the power to raise the minimum wage.
Arizona voters overwhelmingly chose to change some rules governing medical debt owed by residents.
Proposition 209 passed by a vote of 72% to 28%, according to data from the Arizona Secretary of State. It will cap the interest rate on medical debt at 3% and limit medical debt wage garnishment to a maximum of 30% of earnings.
It will also increase the value of primary residences and cars that would be protected from medical debt collectors to $400,000 and $15,000, respectively, from $250,000 and $6,000, said Rodd McLeod, spokesperson for Healthcare. Rising Arizona, which supported the measure also supported. by the equity project.
The measure will not forgive any medical debt, McLeod said.
Opponents argued that the initiative would hurt consumers. It will be harder for Arizonans to get credit and for businesses in the state to collect debts, as well as raise interest rates on consumer debt, according to Protect Our Arizona, which had hoped to do fail the measurement.
Meanwhile, California’s Proposition 30, which would add a 1.75% surtax on people earning more than $2 million a year, was on course to fail by 59% to 41% on Wednesday night , according to data from the California Secretary of State. CNN is not yet projecting a winner.
The measure was widely backed by Lyft, which, like other ride-sharing companies, is subject to another state rule requiring it to primarily use zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Opponents, including the The state’s Republican Party said the ballot measure was an attempt. by Lyft to get taxpayers to pay the company’s bill.
Notably, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also opposed the measure, appearing in an ad to defeat it.
“Prop 30 is billed as a climate initiative, but in reality it was designed by a single company to funnel state income taxes to benefit its company,” he said in the announcement.
Supporters, which include environmental groups, public interest organizations, labor unions and a slew of Democratic officials, said the measure was needed to address climate change in the state. This would generate around $100 billion over the next 20+ years, they said.
This story has been updated with additional developments.