Get ready for some big decisions come November.
The window for submitting measures for the Nov. 6 election closed last week leaving a flood of issues for voters to contend with -- from Gov. Jerry Brown's marquee tax initiative to local school bonds and municipal taxes.
(For more election 2012 coverage, go to fresnobee.com/election)
The number of initiatives, of course, depends on where you live. But long lists in many parts of the Valley, which include measures asking residents to cough up additional tax dollars, have raised fears that voters might scoff at the ballot and its many propositions.
"I suspect the sheer number will have a negative effect," said Tom Holyoke, associate professor of political science at Fresno State. "A large number of ballot measures tends to create a lengthy ballot, and that leads to a certain amount of frustration. ... When that happens, voters tend to vote no."
The situation is only exacerbated when measures have to do with taxes, Holyoke said.
The reality could be chilling for cities, schools and special districts, which already have been hit hard by the economy and now may face longer odds of winning new revenues.
"It's a tough situation," said Caruthers resident Russel Efird, who is unsure about whether to support a bond measure for his local school district. "The school needs it because of the money the state has taken away ... but it's just more and more taxes for rural residents."
While the governor has seized the top spot on the ballot for his tax initiative -- to gain a leg up on the other measures -- sponsors of local initiatives, which generally are placed lower on the ballot, have begun touting the importance of issues closer to home.
"You want to support those things that benefit you most directly," said John Freitas, campaign treasurer for the Measure B library tax in Fresno County. "Start [voting] at the bottom of the ballot."
Supporters of Measure B acknowledge that the crowded election is likely to work against them.
The November election will include 11 statewide measures. Besides Brown's Proposition 30, which would increase the sales tax by a quarter cent and raise income tax on those making more than $250,000 annually, two other tax increases will go before voters.
Proposition 38 seeks to raise income taxes to pay for schools, and Proposition 39 seeks higher taxes on corporations to pay for clean-energy projects.
The remainder of state measures run the gamut, from abolishing the death penalty to requiring labeling of genetically modified food.
At the local level, Valley schools are seeking approval for several bonds and a couple of municipalities are pursuing other taxes. Among them are the county of Fresno, with its library sales tax, and six Fresno County school districts.
Washington Unified is one of those. It has three campuses; Washington Union High School, in particular, is showing its age.
"Our newest building is about 22 years old and the oldest building is 70 years old," said Joey Campbell, assistant superintendent.
District officials are asking voters to approve a $22 million bond to fund facility upgrades in the south Fresno area. Under the bond measure, residents will be asked to pay an additional $55 property assessment for every $100,000 of assessed property value.
"Taxes are a very sensitive issue to the community. It's asking people to pay money out of their personal budget," Campbell said. But "we feel it's a worthwhile community investment, and we hope voters will agree."
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