Letters: Get it right in 2024
Madera County’s Measure T Renewal on the November ballot extends the existing half-cent sales tax for transportation, but doesn’t end there. Fresno County’s Measure C is essentially identical with similar flaws.
When it comes to transportation, voters in Fresno and Madera counties are joined by more than a few bridges across the San Joaquin. A recent Fresno Bee column by Ashley Swearingen and Rod Thornton of the Central Valley Community Foundation, “Measure C can be improved: Fresno County voters should mark no for now,” makes that abundantly clear.
We urge a no vote on Measure T hoping to create a worthwhile proposal for the 2024 ballot, well before the tax expires in 2027.
The Renewal has been rushed. Community was excluded from the process. Now we’re being forced to campaign against a bad tax proposal. Sadly, local leaders rejected the 2017-2018 Madera County Grand Jury findings that there has been inadequate citizen input into the current Measure T program.
A former Steering Committee Member said: “Residents want to see a renewed measure that prioritizes their community needs, instead of rushing those decisions in a proposed Investment Plan and Implementation Guidelines that the residents have not reviewed.”
Measure T promoted by local leaders would remove the 20-year sunset clause, making it a “forever tax” that could only be ended by an expensive citizen-led initiative.
Swearingen’s and Thornton’s comments apply equally to Madera County: the need for a larger vision and better prioritization of transportation investments; the need for a long-range plan to build community; the need to thoughtfully include and engage new voices, and finally the need to stop the County from irresponsibly forging ahead prematurely with the tax extension.
A dedicated group of politicians and special interests behind Measure T are in campaign mode. As voters receive mailed ballots, they are bombarded with media advertisements and should be alert for misleading language, including the ballot itself.
For example, voters were deceptively told that Measure T is “now set to expire” but it doesn’t end for five more years. Voters are promised that the tax “helps seniors and people with disabilities remain dependent.” The sad truth, there is no plan to fund the paratransit system necessary to serve people who can no longer drive, particularly seniors on fixed incomes in rural communities.
Young and middle-aged voters have even more to be concerned about. A forever tax is mostly unfair to them. They lose a voice in the process that a sunset clause guarantees, and they lose control of their future tax dollars. Today’s decisions will be locked-in for decades, through bonds and long-term debt.
Finally, although our roads need repair and maintenance, Measure T is unbalanced. A huge portion goes to highways; we already pay very high state and federal taxes for that. Another $375 million will be paid out in major road subsidies for new growth areas. Local roads will continue to be ignored in too many communities.
Vote “NO not now” so we can get it right in 2024.
— Dan Metz,