Raucous tea party rallies nationwide have been blanketed with signs reading "Taxed Enough Already," "Cut Taxes, Cut Government" and "We Make, They Take — No Socialism."
In an election year dominated by angry antigovernment and antitax rhetoric, local tax initiatives should have no chance of success.
But an Associated Press review of local election results found that voters agreed to raise taxes to help pay for schools, public safety and other services they believe are essential to their communities.
With states facing huge budget deficits, reduced aid to communities is leaving voters with a difficult choice: dig deeper into their own pockets or cut the services that most affect their lives.
"We're talking about funding services that are more tangible to voters, and what happens in the elections has a lot more to do with local realities than it does with anything happening on the national level," said Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities.
An AP review of 39 states found 2,387 revenue measures in 22 states where they appeared on local primary and special-election ballots this year. Voters in 19 states — or in 86 percent of those holding such elections — passed 50 percent or more of the local tax initiatives that came before them.
The types of taxes run the gamut. School district budgets in New York. Utility rate hikes in California. Sales tax increases in North Carolina. School construction bonds in Nebraska.
In many states, the pro-tax vote was overwhelming. Ohio voters approved 72 percent of 448 local tax measures. In Louisiana, voters passed 83 percent of 77 local tax questions. Voters in recession-ravaged and fiscally conservative Arizona approved 66 percent of the 30 local tax measures.
Kansas, Nebraska and Washington were among other states with high percentages of local tax measures passing.
But voters in some states were not accommodating.
In New Jersey, voters in April rejected 59 percent of 537 revenue-generating school budget proposals. It was the first time in 34 years that a majority of the state's school budget proposals were defeated.
In Illinois and Massachusetts, roughly 60 percent of local measures failed.