When markets and officials fall short
In Tuesday’s midterms, voters set out yet again to tackle major social and economic issues — flat wages, expensive housing, discrimination against released prisoners — that public officials and companies failed to resolve.
Why it matters: In part, the populism that is roiling nations around the world is a reaction to a feeling that the system has failed to respond to large social issues. In these cases, voters said markets and public officials fell short.
- As we reported yesterday, a dozen cities and states — red and blue — have recently approved $15-an-hour minimum wages. Dozens more have approved lesser increases from the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
- Now, in the midterms, two red states — Arkansas and Missouri — approved big minimum increases. Arkansas raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour from $8.50, and Missouri to $12 from $7.85.
The issue of rectifying skyrocketing housing costs appeared on ballots in eight states.
- In San Francisco, voters overwhelmingly approved a tax on big business to fund permanent housing, emergency shelters and mental health services for the city's homeless people.
- Economists said it would raise $250 million to $300 million.
- The passage is a defeat for the city's big tech firms — accused of hugely exacerbating San Francisco's explosion of housing costs — who mostly opposed the tax or stayed quiet.
- But Californians as a whole defeated a separate proposition to expand rent control. Opponents — who vastly outspent proponents — said the result would be to worsen the state's housing crisis because some property owners would take their homes off the market.
In Florida, voters decisively struck down a 150-year-old law that disenfranchised anyone convicted of a felony, even after completing their sentence.
The ballot initiative repeals an 1868 constitutional amendment that overwhelmingly affects black men. To the degree they vote, the ex-felons could have an enormous impact on elections, since they could become 9.2% of Florida's electorate.
- What’s next: Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that disenfranchise ex-felons.