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And while a slew of voter-approved tax increases in liberal states such as California may not come as a shock, similar behavior in more conservative places is perhaps more telling.

Residents in Baldwin County, Ala., described as “very conservative” by school Superintendent Alan Lee, voted by nearly a two-thirds margin to renew a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax for schools. Mr. Lee had threatened to close schools, eliminate hundreds of positions and cancel athletic programs if the tax renewal failed.

In Oklahoma, voters easily approved more than a dozen increases in local sales or property taxes. In the conservative Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, voters endorsed both property and sales tax increases to help fund parks and recreational facilities.