Fresno Unified School District has plans to improve several of its educational programs, but needs your vote to do so.
The district is pulling for Proposition 30 to pass so it can capture millions of dollars. A yes vote in November temporarily increases the state's sales tax and raises taxes on those with the highest incomes. It is projected to generate about $7 billion a year for the state. Education is slated to get a large chunk of the cash.
“Possibly on November 6th we could be talking about a dramatically different school district for years to come,” said Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson.
Fresno Unified is designated to get an estimated $29 million dollars if prop 30 passes. $11.5 million would be used to pay off the district's deficit. The bulk of the other $17.5 million would be invested in areas such as music, middle school instructors and pre-school expansion.
“We will go in a couple of years from 42% of our kids in pre-school up to 80%,” said Hanson.
Prop 30 would raise the state's sales tax by a quarter percent, from 7.25% to 7.5%, for four years.
Those earning higher incomes would see their tax rates sit at levels anywhere from 10 to 12 percent over the next seven years.
Business owner Brad Zane does not support the measure.
“The word tax itself makes people run like something is on fire. Taxes are horrible,” said Brad Zane.
He's not convinced that politicians will actually direct revenue to the 73,000 students of Fresno Unified.
“All of our congressman and legislators who are asking us for more money are the ones mismanaging the money, so how can they ask us for more when they themselves need to be policed by somebody,” said Zane.
Hanson understands the skepticism, but encourages voters to have faith.
“We have to fix this ourselves in our city. Education and a higher level of skill, knowledge and skills is what's going to allow you to move to the next layer, to the next level of social mobility,” said Hanson.
If Proposition 30 does not pass, Fresno Unified says it will have to cut $11.5 million over the next three years. A process that would begin in January.