Voters trim tax-cutters' sails.
Boston — State tax choppers have fallen on hard times. The wave of rollbacks and restrictive proposals that swept across the nation in the months and years since California's Proposition 13, in June 1978, appears over.
None of the five citizen-sparked tax-reduction or limitation measures on Nov. 6 ballots were approved, and some of them got clobbered. Voters in Michigan, by a 3-to-2 margin, said ''no'' to a propoal restricting property-tax levels and giving the electorate the last word concerning future increases.
Efforts by Proposition 13 architect Howard Jarvis and others to plug court-opened loopholes in that tax-cap law failed on the California ballot. The controversial proposal, if approved, could have meant refunds totaling $1.7 billion to certain property owners.
Nevadans spurned, although by a narrower margin, an initiative to require that all increases in state or local taxes be approved by two-thirds of both state legislative chambers, plus a majority of the voters.
Oregonians, who twice previously defeated proposals to lower or cap taxes, turned down a measure to reduce property assessments to 1981 values and ban future increases in excess of 2 percent a year.
In Idaho a ballot move to exempt food from the state's sales tax was defeated.
The closest thing to tax whittling was accomplished by the Washington State electorate, with approval of a measure exempting the value of a trade-in vehicle from the sales tax on a new car.
A proposed one-eighth of 1 percent boost in the state sales tax to finance a state-sponsored fish-and-game fund failed in Arkansas.
Faring considerably better on Tuesday's ballot were various gambling-related proposals.
Voters in four states - California, Missouri, Oregon, and West Virginia - cleared the way for government-sponsored lotteries.
Missourians also said ''yes'' to pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing.
Meanwhile, voters in Arkansas turned down a proposal for casino gambling in Garland County (Hot Springs), and in Colorado a similar move involving such operations for the city of Pueblo was rejected.
California voters approved a measure that could have future significance for the growing number of non-English-speaking Americans. It establishes English as the state's official language and asks Congress and the White House to support a law providing that ''all ballots, pamphlets, and other voting materials'' be printed only in English.
Under the federal Civil Rights Act some US counties are required to provide bilingual election materials for Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians, and Alaska natives. New federal rules issued prior to the Nov. 6 election cut the number of counties that had to provide such biligual materials or assistance from 481 to 197. Public borrowing totaling more than $2.8 billion for a broad range of projects, including school construction, prisons, veterans' housing, and industrial development, were approved in seven states - Alaska, California, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.
Californians alone authorized some $1.75 billion in such potential increased indebtedness.
At the same time, proposed bonding authorizations amounting to $3 million were turned down by voters.
Arkansas, one of but four states with two-year terms for governor, approved four-year terms for its chief executives, starting in 1987. In New Hampshire a similar measure, which had been endorsed by a constitutional convention last spring, fell short of the required two-thirds voter approval.
New Hampshire voters did, however, provide for annual legislative sessions, prohibit state lawmakers from passing measures that would imposing new costs on cities and towns unless accompanied by state funding, and guaranteed improved access to polling places for the handicapped. But a measure to shrink New Hampshire's 400-seat house of representatives by 12 members and increase the 24 -member senate by that amount failed.
Initiatives to guarantee, through the state constitutions, a citizen's ''right to bear arms'' breezed through in North Dakota and Utah. Voters in the latter state, however, voted down a proposed tough law to make pornography on cable television a criminal offense.
In Oregon, two initiative measures reinstating capital punishment and providing for imposition of the death penalty for certain first-degree murders were approved.
Proposals to tighten restrictions on political campaign contributions, set up a new impartial panel to reapportion legislative and congressional seats, and place a ceiling on welfare payments all failed in California.
Efforts to ban public funding of abortions were defeated in Colorado and Washington State.
A similar measure was ruled off the ballot in Arkansas at the 11th hour by that state's Supreme Court because of the question's wording.
Civil War veterans and their widows in Oklahoma, if there are any, will continue to be eligible for a $200 annual tax exemption in the wake of voter rejection of a repeal measure. This is despite the fact that nobody has claimed such help for more than a half-century.
Voluntary school prayer was approved in West Virginia.
Foes of an equal-rights amendment to the Maine constitution, aided by substantial funding from out of state, were victorious.
Washington, D.C., voters approved a controversial initiative guaranteeing overnight shelter for the homeless and apparently requiring the city government there to come up with the necessary funding for such housing.
Abolition of the Alaska Transportation Commission and substantial deregulation of state rail, air, and motor transit was approved by Alaskans.
A legislature-launched bid to provide special privilege in speech and debate for Florida lawmakers was thwarted by the voters.
Georgians, eager to keep bad apples out of government, approved measures requiring automatic suspension of public officials, including judges and legislators, indicted for misconduct and their removal if convicted.
In Mississippi public officials were prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts in connection with their areas of responsibility or trust.
Nebraksans cleared the way for farmland to be assessed at a lower rate than other types of property.
Measures to restrict the transportation and disposal of nuclear wastes were approved in North Dakota and Oregon. At the same time, North Dakotans said ''no'' to a proposal calling for a nuclear arms freeze.
Missouri turned down a hotly contested proposal to restrict rate increases by utility companies stemming from plant construction. The measure was intended to thwart nuclear power projects.
Texans voted to establish a special higher education assistance fund.
Five measures, including two spurred by initiative petitions, aimed at controlling health care costs were defeated in Arizona.
Rhode Island voters authorized a state constitutional convention to consider a variety of possible amendments, including a four-year term for governor.
An approved state constitutional change in New Hampshire provides for the state senate president to take over the governorship should it become vacant between elections. Like neighboring Maine, which has a similar arrangement, the Granite State has no lieutenant governor.