Fresno County Voters Won’t See Argument Against Measure E on the Ballot. What Happened? - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Fresno County Voters Won’t See Argument Against Measure E on the Ballot. What Happened?

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A miscommunication led to arguments in opposition to the Measure E sales tax not appearing on the March 5 primary ballot. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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There is organized opposition to the billion-dollar sales tax measure supporting Fresno State, although you will not see it on the county voter information guide or ballot.

Due to a miscommunication between Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters James Kus and Brooke Ashjian, organizer of Guardians of Growth, the group opposing Measure E, arguments against the tax measure will not appear on the March 5 primary ballot.

“It’s important because when people look at the ballot, these guys put a bunch of nonsense on there. They’re playing to the heartstrings of nurses and engineers and blah, blah, blah, right? Well, the truth of the matter is that now we’ve got to pay twice,” Ashjian said of the proposed tax. “They’re asking Fresno County to pay again for something they already paid for” via taxes collected by the state of California.

Deadlines Depend on Filing Dates

The clock to file arguments begins ticking once the county registrar can publish the measure notices, said Fresno County Clerk James Kus.

After the approved resolution is received, the notice must be published in a public forum, usually print media such as the Fresno Bee or the Business Journal. Following that, proponents are given 10 days to submit arguments in favor of the proposition.

Opponents get 10 days to publish their arguments to the contrary.

“It is not uncommon that an argument for or against a measure would not be delivered in Fresno County — less so for a larger measure like Measure E but still normal,” Kus said.

Ashjian said went to the clerk’s office in October to find out when to file opposition arguments. The voter-backed initiative hadn’t been filed yet, so he was told to wait.

Ashjian said he was told nothing would be ready until after November. In December, Kus mistakenly told Ashjian the due date wasn’t until Dec. 11. Kus said he was thinking of two other measures. Thus, the Measure E opponents missed the deadline.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Ashjian went to the Fresno County Clerk’s Office with Fresno County Assessor/Recorder Paul Dictos and Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld.  The trio spoke against Measure E at a Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Sales Tax Breakdown

Measure E would add a .25% sales tax to most purchases. That amounts to a penny for every $4 purchase.

If passed, it would join other local tax measures that include Measure C, the .50% transportation tax; Measure B, the .125% library tax, Measure Z, the .10% zoo tax, and, in the city of the Fresno, Measure P, a .375% parks and cultural arts tax.

The California state sales tax rate is 7.25% — a base rate of 6%, plus a mandatory local rate of 1.25% that goes directly to city and county tax officials.

Add up these sales taxes, and you get 8.35% for the city of Fresno and 7.975% for Fresno County. Other cities in the county vary. View them at this link.

Measure E needs 50% plus one vote to pass.

(Source: State of California)

Ashjian’s Arguments Against Measure E

Ashjian formed Guardians of Growth to oppose Measure E. He says that considering the taxes paid to the state that fund the California State University system, another sales tax means people are paying twice for the same thing.

“Do you really believe that people are going to vote for this if they already know that they already paid for Fresno State once through the state income taxes and now they’re asking them to pay it again?” Ashjian said.

Proponents of Measure E say the state does not have the money to fund deferred maintenance or new buildings in the CSU system. A study done by the Legislative Analyst’s Office — a nonpartisan state agency — shows that the state has no way of paying for needed upkeep at its universities.

Money raised by the sales tax would go into a fund controlled by Fresno County. A seven-member committee appointed by Fresno County supervisors, the Fresno State president, and the CSU chancellor would choose how to disburse that money.

Measure E would allow committee members to pay themselves up to $81,000 a year. Oversight committee members for other tax measures are not paid.

“They’re paying them more than what teachers make for three meetings a year to decide the fate of the taxes, are you kidding me?” Ashjian said. “And who’s getting these jobs? Are they promised to somebody already?”

The Lincoln Club of Fresno County — of which Ashjian is a member — came out in opposition against the measure as did the Fresno County Democratic Party. Ashjian’s Guardians of Growth received support from the Howard Jarvis Tax Association, which also opposes Measure E.

Measure E Endorsements

The Fresno Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Firefighters IAFF Local 202, the Fresno Madera Kings Tulare Building Trades Council, and the Kerman City Council recently came out in support of the measure.

Important Fresno County Voting Dates

  • Feb. 5-Feb. 27: Vote-by-mail ballots in the mail
  • Feb. 6: Ballot drop boxes open
  • Feb. 19: Last day to register for this election
  • Feb. 20-March 5: Conditional voter registration period
  • Feb. 24: 11-day voting centers open
  • Feb. 27: Last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot
  • March 2: 4-day voting centers open
  • March 5: Election Day (7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
  • March 12: Last day to receive vote-by-mail ballot postmarked no later than March 5, 2024.

Links to More Information

Ballot Drop Box Locations

11-Day and 4-Day Voter Center Map and Locations

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Brooke Ashjian went to the Fresno County Clerk’s Office with Fresno County Assessor/Recorder Paul Dictos and Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld. 

 

Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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