Backers of Measure E, the sales tax initiative that would benefit Fresno State, have collected enough signatures to qualify it for the March 2023 ballot.
Signatures will be delivered to the Fresno County Clerk’s Office Wednesday morning.
Driving the news: Measure E backers held a press conference at Harris Construction Tuesday afternoon to announce that the group will submit 34,223 signatures to the county.
- Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer hosted the press conference and has been vocal in his support of the sales tax measure. He was joined by Fresno State President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval, Asm. Jim Patterson (R – Fresno) and Monson-SUltana Joint Union Elementary School District Superintendent Roberto Vaca. Valley Children’s CEO Todd Suntrapak was scheduled to speak as well but was unable to attend.
The big picture: If it passes, Measure E would impose a 0.25 percent sales tax on Fresno County over a 25-year term, generating $63 million annually and $1.575 billion in total that would go directly to the university.
- Last year backers tried to pass a 0.2 percent sales tax, also known as Measure E, which was shot down by Fresno County voters as it gained 47.14 percent in support, falling short of the needed majority.
- Spending for Measure E would be governed by an independent citizens’ oversight committee comprised of five members appointed by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and two members appointed by the CSU Chancellor and Fresno State President. Committee members would be able to decide if they take a stipend from the funds to compensate their work, maxing out at $80,574 a year if they choose to do so.
- The committee would spend the money based on a project list provided by Fresno State, which breaks down at a 84.6 percent split for academic facilities and programs and 15.4 percent to athletics.
- Supporters point to approximately $500 million in deferred maintenance needs at the university, given that two-thirds of the academic buildings on campus are at least 50 years old and contain hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead and mold.
- Supporters also called on the need for a new nursing school to help local hospitals provide the necessary coverage for the region’s growing population.
- Projects on the list include $160 million for modernizing Valley Children’s Stadium, $45 million for a 1,200 seat concert hall, $60 million each for expanding the Lyles College of Engineering and a new school of nursing building and $150 million in endowments.
What they’re saying: While he is legally unable to endorse Measure E given his position as university president, Jimenez-Sandoval tied the tax measure to the conference realignment saga surrounding college football, arguing that Measure E would help build Fresno State’s brand nationally and make the university a more attractive option to other conferences.
- “It’s all about the brand,” Jimenez-Sandoval said. “The reason why universities get chosen for other conferences is not because they have better football teams, because we saw that this weekend that was not the case. It’s not. It’s how they are able to articulate a story about themselves.”
- Dyer said, “We have a good university, one that has helped Fresno grow to become the 34th largest city in the nation. With Measure E, we can transform Fresno State into an exceptional university and improve the quality of life for everyone throughout Fresno County.”