A group of Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians came together on Monday to urge Fresno County residents to vote no on Measure E.
The group held a press conference outside of Valley Children’s Stadium to oppose the 0.25 percent sales tax measure that would benefit the university, arguing in part that Fresno County residents should not be taxed twice for Fresno State.
The backstory: Measure E is projected to generate $63 million annually, which would total nearly $1.6 billion over the 25-year lifespan of the tax.
- A citizens’ oversight committee would govern how Measure E funds are spent. According to a proposed project list from Fresno State last year, around 85 percent of the funding would be used on academic facilities and programs, while the remainder would be used for athletics, including renovations to the aging football stadium.
- The previous iteration of Measure E was voted down 52.86 percent to 47.14 percent, which came to over a 12,000-vote margin.
The big picture: Asm. Esmeralda Soria (D–Fresno), Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias, former Republican Congressman and Assembly candidate George Radanovich, former State Center Community College District Trustee Eric Payne, former Fresno Unified School District Trustee Brooke Ashjian and others came together in opposition of Measure E on Monday.
- In their press conference, the opponents took issue with raising taxes in Fresno County for a university that people already pay taxes to the state for.
- Opponents also took issue with language in the ballot measure which would allow the oversight committee to give itself a salary. Committee members would be allowed to vote on giving themselves an annual salary equaling a senior Board of Supervisors assistant. That would come in at around $80,000 for each of the seven members, if they chose to do so.
- Ashjian explained why there is no formal opposition to Measure E on the ballot. Fresno County voters see a list of supporters on the ballot for Measure E, including Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Asm. Jim Patterson (R–Fresno). But there are not any opponents listed.
- Ashjian said he contacted Fresno County Clerk and Registrar of Voters James Kus after the Fresno County Board of Supervisors placed Measure E on the ballot last October, saying he wanted to write an argument in opposition. According to Ashjian, Kus told him that he could submit an opposition piece after Nov. 16, with Dec. 11 being the deadline. Ashjian reached out again on Dec. 7, but Kus said he made a mistake and that the deadline was actually Nov. 16, not Dec. 11, meaning there would not be any formal opposition listed on the ballot.
What they’re saying: “At a time when the cost of living is on the rise, Measure E is not the right solution for Fresno County taxpayers,” Soria said. “Supporters of the measure minimize the financial impact of a sales tax increase, because guess what? They can all afford it. The people that I’m concerned about are the residents that are low income or on a fixed income, which we do have many of those seniors in our community who cannot afford to pay any more.”
- Ashjian said Measure E would shift the liability to fix the buildings at Fresno State from California to local taxpayers.
- “When was the last time you truly saw Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association stand alongside each other in principle and purpose? When – never, would I guess. Well today’s the day by saying no to a tax which punishes the working man,” Ashjian said.