Backers of Sales Tax for Fresno State Prep for Second Ballot Try
If, at first, you fail at the ballot box, try again.
Last year, Fresno County voters said no to a two-tenths of a cent sales tax to support programs at Fresno State. Measure E failed, 53% to 47%.
Richard F. Spencer, construction magnate and the sole funder of the 2022 version, is trying to pass Measure E 2.0. He is gathering community and elected leaders at his office near Fresno Yosemite airport on Thursday afternoon.
“I want you to add things which you think Fresno State really needs to grow, prosper and drive this community forward. This list will become the substance of our new — and successful — effort to pass this measure,” Spencer wrote in his email invite.
Related Story: California Bill Would Gut Transparency Rule for Local Tax Measures
Costa, Dyer, Patterson Among Meeting Invitees
Among the elected leaders invited to attend are Congressman Jim Costa, state Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Supervisor Sal Quintero, and Fresno City Council President Tyler Maxwell.
Patterson, an ardent Measure E supporter, serves on the Assembly accountability, and audit committees.
Several Fresno State administrators are on the invite list, including president Saul Jiménez-Sandoval.
The goal, a Spencer spokesman told Politics 101, is to ask voters again on the March 5, 2024 ballot. The new Measure E will collect signatures to place the item on the ballot. Entering the ballot by signature means that only a simple majority is needed to pass. Measure E backers established a separate committee just to raise money for the petition.
“I’ll have the wine ready and we’ll discuss the future of our city/county and Fresno State as we achieve what has never been tried in California before. We will take our ‘economic driver’ which is Fresno State — to a new level,” Spencer wrote in his email.
Only Fresno County Voters Asked to Raise Taxes
The 2022 version was projected to raise $720 million over 20 years and revenues were to go to Fresno State programs and facilities, with two-thirds slated for academics and the remaining third for university athletics.
While 56% of Fresno State’s students are from Fresno County, no other county was asked to share in the tax burden. School figures show 82% of the student body comes from a six-county region (Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera, Merced, Mariposa).
Details of how large the 2024 Measure E tax proposal will be and how long it would last are being worked out.
Critics of Measure E questioned why Fresno County taxpayers should be on the hook for a state-funded school. Spencer’s motivations were also questioned, wondering if he would receive the contracts to build new facilities that would be funded by Measure E.