Skelos And Long Island State Senate Delegation Support Plan To Provide Public With More Information Before School Budget Votes

Dean G. Skelos

March 11, 2005

New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) today joined the members of Long Island’s State Senate delegation to support a proposal designed to ensure greater accountability in school district budgeting. As written by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), the "Truth in Voting Act" would provide the public with clearly defined school budget proposals, including a detailed contingency budget, prior to the school budget vote.

"The ‘Truth in Voting Act’ is very important legislation that will enable voters to make informed decisions about their local school budgets," said Senator Skelos. "By requiring school boards to clearly disclose all information relating to their budgets, this bill establishes a more transparent, accountable process."

The "Truth in Voting Act" would require school districts to submit budget proposals that include itemized lists of programs scheduled to be trimmed or eliminated under a contingency budget along with the cost of each item. The bill also creates a new "school budget comparison card" that compares the prior year’s spending with the proposed budget, equipping voters with the information needed to cast educated budget votes. Both provisions would ensure that voters are not intimidated by laundry lists of programs and services that may or may not be cut if the original budget is defeated.

In addition, the "Truth in Voting Act" aims to enhance residents’ involvement on bond resolutions by requiring that they be voted on at the same time as the school budgets. Further, the measure statutorily prohibits school districts from disseminating information designed to influence the outcome of a particular vote or election.