Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Did Candidate Messages Doom Local Funding for Veterans, Roads, Fresno State?
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 1 year ago on
November 10, 2022

Share

Three local sales tax proposals on Tuesday’s ballot, designed to support veterans, road maintenance and improvements at Fresno State, all appear to be heading for failure based on vote returns reported Tuesday.

Although two of them are winning over 50% of the votes cast, they require a two-thirds majority to pass and neither appears close to obtaining the required 66% support. The other measure needs only a simple majority for approval but is poised to fall short of even that modest threshold.

Why did voters seem to cast a wary eye at all three of these local funding measures? Political thinkers see a combination of direct and indirect factors that likely played a role.

Vote Count Continues

Vote counting will continue this week and next as the Fresno County Elections Office receives ballots that were dropped off in mailboxes and drop boxes on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, the proposal to extend Measure C, the current half-cent sales tax for Fresno County transportation projects, has 58.2% yes votes and 41.8% no votes. Measure M, an eighth-of-a cent sales tax to benefit veterans in the city of Fresno, has 59.3% yes votes and 40.8% no votes.

Meanwhile, Measure E, a proposed two-tenths of a cent sales tax to benefit Fresno State academics and athletics, is losing by 53.8% no votes to 46.2% yes votes. Because it was put on the ballot by petition, it requires only a simple majority to pass.

Measure E Had No Official Opposition

Unlike Measure C, where supporters and opponents established campaigns and raised money, there was no official opposition campaign to counter the commercials, mailers, signs, and other campaign materials that were generated for the “Yes on Measure E, Good to Great for Fresno State” campaign.

The campaign, which garnered the support of local elected officials, retired school superintendents, and business leaders, was bankrolled almost entirely by local builder Richard Spencer, who wrote checks totaling nearly $1.6 million — more than twice as much as what supporters and opponents of Measure C spent combined.

But those campaign dollars for Measure E didn’t translate into votes.

Fresno State political science professor Tom Holyoke said Wednesday that having three separate sales tax proposals on the same ballot might have been overwhelming to voters who also have been grappling with the financial pressures of growing inflation that has raised the price of most commodities and made life more expensive.

“The time when inflation is perceived to be rising quickly is not a very good time to be asking for a tax on people. And I think lacking a truly compelling argument to the contrary, voters tend to be inclined to say no on these things,” he said. “Most voters probably assume, probably with some validity, that Fresno State is something that the state is supposed to be paying for.”

If it passes, Measure E would be the first of its kind. There are no other local jurisdictions in California with a local sales tax to benefit a state university. Proponents estimate it would raise $36 million a year, or $720 million over its 20-year life, with two-thirds going to academics and one-third to athletics.

Measure E supporters had argued that, unlike local school and community college districts, Fresno State is unable to ask voters to pass a bond measure for improvements. Bond measures are financed through property taxes.

Measure E spokesman Tim Orman did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fred Vanderhoof, chair of the Fresno County Republican Party, said he suspects all three tax measures might have had an easier time winning approval at a time when inflation wasn’t having such dire effects across the board. The cost of rent, fuel, and food have soared and are causing many to have to dig into their savings to cover their living costs, he said.

“People don’t have the interest in raising taxes, even though they’re very small per-person,” he said. “I think that that’s what happens, is that the economy affects the decision there.”

Fresno County Democrats declined to comment about the election results on the three tax measures.

Caught Up in Political Messaging

Sales tax measures also may have been the victims of political rhetoric, Holyoke said.

“Keep in mind that a lot of other messaging going on in other campaigns, especially from Republicans, is really highlighting the economic problems,” he said. “So when a political environment is really putting this message out there that we’ve got economic problems and of course, people can see for themselves the effects of inflation. Again, there’s just not a political atmosphere that is conducive to tax increases.”

In addition, Holyoke said, he believes proponents of Measure E didn’t make a sufficiently compelling reason to vote for it, such as arguing that the university is in dire straits.

Social Media Support and Opposition

There was plenty of chatter on social media among residents about whether to support Fresno State’s academic and athletic programs through a new sales tax.

On the NextDoor app, one northeast Fresno resident noted that she is an instructor at Fresno State and sees the need firsthand: “Most of the money from Measure E will go to academics. We REALLY need this! Our classroom facilities are awful. Please support the educational facilities for your children and grandchildren. It’s about the future.”

But others questioned why the Bulldog Foundation is not responsible for raising funds for athletics and the state of California for supporting the university’s academics.

Said one north Fresno resident, “We already pay a tax that covers colleges/universities. Bad timing after the Castro fandango. No on E.”

DON'T MISS

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

DON'T MISS

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

DON'T MISS

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

DON'T MISS

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

DON'T MISS

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

DON'T MISS

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

DON'T MISS

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

DON'T MISS

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

DON'T MISS

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

DON'T MISS

Legislation Pandering to Tribal Casinos Is a Bad Bet for Fresno Cardroom Employees

UP NEXT

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

UP NEXT

About 1 in 4 US Adults Over 50 Say They Expect to Never Retire, an AARP Study Finds

UP NEXT

Arizona Just Revived an 1864 Law Criminalizing Abortion. Here’s What’s Happening in Other States

UP NEXT

Fresno County Appoints New Librarian. What’s Her Favorite Book Genre?

UP NEXT

Costa Seeks Legislation to Prevent Reedley Lab Repeat

UP NEXT

Legacy of Speed: The 1,600 Horsepower 1957 ‘Skeva’ Chevy Bel Air Built in Fresno

UP NEXT

KMJ’s Gabriel & Musson Win Radio Honors, Fresno Council Plaudits

UP NEXT

Tabloid Publisher Says He Pledged to Be Trump Campaign’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ During 2016 Race

UP NEXT

General Motors Reports Strong First-Quarter Profits as Prices Help Offset Small US Sales Dip

UP NEXT

Fresno’s Baklava House Entices Foodies With Its Delicious Flavors

Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

2 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

2 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

4 hours ago

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

Local Education /

6 hours ago

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

6 hours ago

Fong Won’t Debate Boudreaux, but We Get Hot Topic Answers Anyway

6 hours ago

Legislation Pandering to Tribal Casinos Is a Bad Bet for Fresno Cardroom Employees

7 hours ago

About 1 in 4 US Adults Over 50 Say They Expect to Never Retire, an AARP Study Finds

7 hours ago

Biden Signs a $95 Billion War Aid Measure With Assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan

8 hours ago

Ancestry Website to Catalogue Names of Japanese Americans Incarcerated During World War II

8 hours ago

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

Boeing said Wednesday that it lost $355 million on falling revenue in the first quarter, another sign of the crisis gripping the aircraft ma...

1 hour ago

1 hour ago

Boeing’s Financial Woes Continue, While Families of Crash Victims Urge US to Prosecute

1 hour ago

Police Tangle With Students in Texas and California as Wave of Campus Protest Against Gaza War Grows

CA District 27 Assembly candidate Joanna Garcia Rose
2 hours ago

Meet the Valley Republican Predicting a November Win Over Esmeralda Soria

2 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Construction Workers on 2018 Fresno Unified Project Still Not Paid

2 hours ago

Slumping California Risks Losing World’s ‘5th Largest Economy’ Title

4 hours ago

Ukraine Uses Long-Range Missiles Secretly Provided by US to Hit Russian-Held Areas, Officials Say

Local Education /
6 hours ago

Upward Bound: Edison High’s Garcia Headed to Johns Hopkins

6 hours ago

Boxing Star Ryan Garcia Wants to Meet Netanyahu, Pledges Aid for Gaza Children

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend