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Even as control of the House and Senate remains up in the air, the fate of some local and statewide higher education–related ballot measures became much more clear Wednesday, with voters approving several record bond measures.
However, the most high-profile higher education ballot measure this election cycle—a vote to allow undocumented students in Arizona to receive in-state tuition—remains too close to call.
About 50.8 percent of the votes counted by Wednesday night were in favor of the Arizona measure known as Proposition 308. About 70 percent of the votes cast have been counted.
A broad coalition of business groups, politicians and immigration advocacy organizations advocated for the measure, which would benefit more than 3,600 Arizona students, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to the American Immigration Council.
Arizona voters backed a measure in 2006 to limit public benefits, including in-state tuition, to only documented immigrants.
Under Proposition 308, students who lived in Arizona for two or more years and graduated from an Arizona high school would be eligible for in-state tuition and state financial aid regardless of their immigration status.
Students with undocumented status, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, currently aren’t eligible for state financial aid in Arizona, though Arizona high school graduates who have lived in the state for three years are eligible for a separate tuition rate that’s 150 percent of the in-state rate.
The Arizona proposition was one of three statewide measures on the ballot this November related to higher education. In New Mexico, 61.3 percent of voters approved $207 million in general obligation bonds that will fund 28 construction projects across 15 institutions.
In Rhode Island, 57.8 percent of voters signed off on $100 million in bonds for the University of Rhode Island to upgrade its Narragansett Bay campus.
Voters across the country approved local bond measures that will help community colleges transform their physical campuses
By Wednesday afternoon, the Los Angeles Community College District’s record $5.3 billion request had received 60 percent of votes in favor of the proposal, according to the Los Angeles Times. The money would go toward replacing or renovating 45 buildings built before or during the 1970s, improving campus infrastructure and upgrading technology, among other projects.
“Very, very appreciative of the confidence that the public and the L.A. voters are demonstrating to our community colleges,” LACCD chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said in a statement. “What we see these resources doing is providing exceptional teaching and learning environments for our students.”
California counties and cities are still counting votes, so the results are not final. Bond measures in California need to receive 55 percent of the vote in order to pass.
About 67 percent of voters approved Pasadena City College’s $565 million bond request, which will be used to replace leaky roofs, remove hazardous buildings, upgrade technology, renovate buildings and establish permanent satellite campuses in the region. Meanwhile, passage of the Cerritos Community College District’s $425 million bond measure was not certain Wednesday night. So far, the measure has received 55.3 percent of the vote. The money would go toward the construction of several new buildings, among other projects.
Another big-ticket bond measure—the Austin Community College District’s $770 million ask—passed with 70 percent of the vote, KUT 90.5 reported. The Texas community college district is planning to build two new campuses and expand workforce development programs with the additional funds.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that are ahead for Central Texas, thanks to our voters’ support. I want to thank each and every person who cast a ballot and put their trust in ACC,” ACC chancellor Richard Rhodes said in a statement. “We created this bond with every region in mind. Now, we’ll be able to build the spaces students need to thrive and meet the needs of our community’s growing workforce.”
In Oregon, Portland-area voters backed Portland Community College’s $450 million bond measure, which was a record ask for the college. The money will pay for infrastructure and technology upgrades, an expansion of technical education, and renovations to existing facilities, officials have said.
“Voters understand how the success of PCC students contributes to a thriving economy once they have graduated and are in the workforce,” PCC president Adrien Bennings said in a statement. “For all of these reasons, PCC was given a ‘thumbs up’ by voters to continue its good work! We thank the voters for your continued support of one of our area’s greatest assets: our community college, its dedicated employees, and all of our students who are doing their part to make the greater Portland community a better place to live and work.”
In North Carolina, 70 percent of Wake County voters supported a $353.2 million measure to fund a range of projects at Wake Technical Community College, including an expansion of the college’s health sciences program and the establishment of a new campus.
“We’re so grateful for the outpouring of support from the people of Wake County,” Wake Tech president Scott Ralls said in a statement. “It’s clear that voters understand the critical role that Wake Tech plays in preparing a skilled workforce for the companies in our region. It’s also clear that they appreciate the life-changing opportunities we provide for Wake County residents to prepare for meaningful careers and ongoing career advancement.”
A similar $112.74 million request for Durham Technical Community College passed with 82 percent approval, green-lighting the college’s plans to construct two new classroom buildings, make repairs and renovations, and acquire land for future growth.