Measure E, the Fresno County sales tax proposal that would benefit Fresno State’s facilities and programs, is officially headed to the ballot.
Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to place the initiative on the March 2023 ballot after County Clerk James Kus verified the required number of signatures it needed.
Driving the news: Last month proponents of the measure – listed as Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, former Clovis Unified Superintendent Terry Bradley, Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno), Fresno County Supervisor Sal Quintero and Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation CEO Dora Westerlund – submitted over 34,500 signatures to the county.
- Needing only 20,814 valid signatures, the county determined that at least 24,000 signatures are valid through the random sample process.
The measure: Measure E is a county-wide 0.25 percent sales tax over a 25-year lifespan that is estimated to generate $63 million annually and nearly $1.6 billion in total for Fresno State.
- Funds would go towards projects identified by Fresno State, which would be 84.6 percent for academic facilities and programs and 15.4 percent to athletics.
- An independent citizens’ oversight committee made up of seven members would govern Measure E’s spendings. Per the language in the measure, the committee has the ability to receive a monthly stipend in compensation that would not exceed the salary of a senior Board of Supervisors assistant, totalling $80,574 per year.
What they’re saying: While Tuesday’s action by the board was effectively ministerial given that proponents could have petitioned the court to place the measure on the ballot if the county refused to do so, it did generate public comment from both sides, including from all candidates in the District 2 race for the board.
- Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos, and former Fresno Unified School Board President Brooke Ashjian spoke in opposition of Measure E. Bredefeld and Dictos are both running against current District 2 Supervisor Steve Brandau.
- Bredefeld said that while he supports Fresno State, the CSU system should address Fresno State’s needs, not county taxpayers.
- Dictos said Measure E would take money from the needy and give it to those who don’t need it.
- “As a professional account, in my opinion I believe that the system has enough financial resources to fund this measure,” Dictos said. “Let’s leave the already overtaxed taxpayers alone. My constituents don’t need and cannot afford another tax.”
- Following public comment and the opinions of his two opponents, Brandau spoke to clarify that the board is not taking a position on the measure, simply placing Measure E on the ballot per the will of the voters.
- Ashjian, speaking after the vote, referred to the ballot measure as “Bulldog bondage” shackling low-income residents with higher taxes.
- “The chains of taxes are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken,” Ashjian said.
- Two current Fresno State students spoke in support, as well as Tim Orman, Dyer’s former chief of staff who is running the Measure E campaign.
- Orman said Fresno State has over $500 million in deferred maintenance and said the state has abdicated its responsibility to take care of the university for the past 50 years.
- “You guys deal with the state and federal government on a daily basis,” Orman told the board. “You know when you’re getting the short end of the stick. That’s what we’ve been getting in Fresno. Measure E is an attempt for the taxpayers to take control of their university with 100 percent of local control of these funds to modernize and improve Fresno State and empower the most prominent economic and social engine we have in Fresno County.”