Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine Urges All Citizens to Participate in the School Budget Vote on May 17

May 3, 2005

An on-time state budget and a near record increase in education aid gives you a more meaningful voice in the upcoming May 17 school budget vote, and I encourage you to use it.

Late state budgets in the past created uncertainty for school officials, who were forced to plan budgets based on aid estimates. But this year’s historic, on-time, bipartisan state budget removes that uncertainty – and provides additional aid to schools. The on-time state budget gives school districts the information they need to plan ahead, guard against program cuts, and avoid raising taxes unnecessarily.

All eligible residents should learn about the proposal on the ballot and vote this year. This vote will help determine if your school budget is approved and therefore how much you’ll pay in property taxes and what school programs will be funded.

The final state budget provides more than $848 million in funding to public schools statewide over last year’s level – approximately $354 million more than the governor initially proposed.

The budget worked out between the Assembly and Senate restored many of the governor’s proposed cuts and helps provide our children a quality education and a brighter future. The budget restored various expense-based aids the governor had proposed cutting – funds that local schools already spent and are entitled to state reimbursement for, including BOCES services, transportation costs, and educating students with disabilities. The state budget will also help high-need school districts renovate and expand.

This additional investment not only benefits students and schools, but local taxpayers. If the governor’s budget was left unchallenged, property owners across the state would have likely faced significant property tax hikes just to maintain the current level of school services. By restoring the governor’s cuts and providing additional education aid, the Legislature allowed districts to maintain services while keeping down local taxes.

I fought for additional state aid for our local schools because investing in education benefits everyone. Well-educated students are the leaders and workers of tomorrow.

Take the time to learn about your school district’s budget, attend a public budget presentation, and make an informed decision when you cast your vote on May 17. If you need information on where and when to vote, please call my district office at (516) 676-0050.