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Fresno County community leaders oppose billion dollar tax hike that Measure E would cause taxpayers, they say

By ONME Newswire

FRESNO, Calif.-- On Monday, February 12, community leaders spoke out at a press conference about the cost to taxpayers that Measure E would compound. The group, which consisted of elected officials and prominent community leaders, expressed how Measure E would cause a $1.5 Billion local tax increase, raising the cost of living in Fresno County even more. According to RentCafe.com, the cost of living currently in Fresno, CA is 21% lower than the state average but 9% higher than the national average. The housing is 5% more expensive than the U.S average, while utilities are about 28% pricier.


The measure specifically says this: California State University, Fresno Facility and Academic Program Improvement Initiative Measure -- Shall the measure expanding access in nursing, agriculture, criminology, science, engineering, other fields; repairing/upgrading campus facilities; providing safe drinking water; making campus more accessible for people with disabilities; providing scholarships for local students, veterans, by establishing a county wide 1/4 cent sales tax, except in jurisdictions where the tax exceeds the combined rate limit, providing approximately $63,000,000 annually for 25 years with audits, public spending disclosure, be adopted?

Also, the funds from this measure would be used toward the "improvement zone" defined as a two-mile radius around the physical boundaries of the CSUF campus.


Measure E will certainly be on the primary election ballot March 5: A "yes" vote supports levying a 0.25% countywide sales tax (1/4 cent) with revenue funding programs and improvements to the California State University Fresno campus, generating $63 million annually for 25 years. A "no" vote opposes levying a 0.25% countywide sales tax (1/4 cent) with revenue funding programs and improvements to the California State University Fresno campus, generating $63 million annually for 25 years. A simple majority (50%+1) vote is required for the approval of Measure E. For example, the tax rate for the city of Fresno, county and state of California is 8.35%; it would be raised to 8.6%.


The community leaders opposing the measure consider it a billion-dollar state bailout.

"This proposal will double tax Fresno County residents, while political insiders will get paid $14 million to dole out hundreds of millions in contracts to their friends," said the press release.

“Too many of our residents are living paycheck to paycheck, imposing a billion-dollar tax

increase to cover a State responsibility is simply wrong. In my first term I secured more

than $300 million dollars in state funding to reopen Madera hospital, build Merced college

student housing and flood recovery, proving that the State is capable and willing to help

our local communities,” said Assemblymember Esmeralda Soria.

“The Fresno County residents aren’t fools. They are overtaxed already, now lazy

politicians and greedy special interests want to bamboozle us into spending double the

money for half the benefit,” said local businessman Brooke Ashjian who was also the former Fresno Unified School Board President.


Measure E is currently supported by Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni, City of Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Fresno County Supervisor Sal Quintero, California Assemblymember Jim Patterson and Frenso Area Hispanic Foundation CEO Dora Westerlund. Their argument is that 80 percent of Fresno State graduates stay within the county to become teachers, nurses, engineers, public health providers, firefighters, police officers and business professionals. Funds will assist with the much-needed repairs on the campus as well as help fund programs.

However, the measure does establish a seven-member Citizens' Oversight Committee appointed by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors and the CSUF Chancellor's Office. The community would have to depend on the annual audit report and hope that there is no bias in the decision making of spending funds and to how that is reported to the public.


Also, others argue that this is a "state" issue, where the burden should come from state funds versus local, struggling taxpayers working 40 hours or more a week at minimum wage or just barely above that--the cost burden is not a fair trade, say Measure E supporters.

     “A sales tax by definition is a regressive tax that burdens low-income people of color

greater than it will for the millionaires proposing it. In addition, this initiative fails to

guarantee any of the benefits to the local families that will bear the greatest burden over

the next 25 years,” said former Trustee Eric Payne.


The state of California is currently facing an incredible budget deficit in the billions; although the state is responsible for its CSU campus funding, the Legislative Analyst’s Office projects the 2024-25 shortfall at $73 billion. But ironically, California Governor Gavin Newsom put forth a $26.9 billion General Fund investment in higher education, a funding level that continues to support California’s students in achieving their higher education goals. Despite a nearly $38 billion budget shortfall, the January proposal largely shielded higher education from severe cuts, demonstrating Governor Newsom’s steadfast commitment to the success of California’s students, especially Latinx, Black, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI), and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) students, as well as first-generation and low-income students.

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