The contentious, high-spending campaign in Ohio over Issue 2, a proposed repeal of new restrictions on bargaining for teachers and other public employees, is casting a shadow over school levies on ballots across the state.
From the Cleveland suburb of Cuyahoga Heights to the Cincinnati Public Schools, more than 200 school districts have levies, bond issues or other tax measures before voters Tuesday. Cuts in state funding and previous levy defeats during the rough economy have raised the stakes in districts that have already reducing busing, activities and staff.
"We're in new territory here," said Rich Hoffman, a businessman who's helping lead the campaign against a Lakota Schools levy in this northern Cincinnati suburb. "I think it will be a tremendous factor, but I don't know what to expect."
Statewide issues, with Issue 2 dominating attention, are expected to increase voter turnout across Ohio, said Matt McClellan, spokesman for the secretary of state's office. Turnout in recent off-year elections without statewide offices on the ballot has tended to run below 40 percent, though 45 percent of the state's voters came out in 2009 when the majority approved casinos for four cities after another high-profile issue campaign.