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Voters would have clear data necessary to make informed decisions on school construction borrowing under a proposal submitted today by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande.
“Ignorance is bliss until government’s credit card hits you in the wallet,” Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said. “Property taxpayers should have a few pieces of basic information before deciding to go deeper in debt to make an investment in their schools.”
Casagrande introduced legislation today that would require school districts to include some basic financial information on a ballot question seeking voter approval to borrow for school construction. On ballot questions, districts are currently required to list the total cost of the project, with a breakdown of state and local funding. The legislation would require more detailed information for a clearer fiscal picture, including:
• Total debt in the school district and municipality
• Estimated impact on an average property taxpayer
• The project’s square-foot by pupil and dollar
“A responsibly-planned project can withstand open and honest public scrutiny,” Casagrande said. “A taxpayer’s responsibility to monitor government spending cannot be fulfilled if local officials deny the right to have basic information needed to make an informed decision.
“You don’t finance a new car without being aware of your personal budget situation and you shouldn’t approve borrowing millions for a school project without similar knowledge,” Casagrande added.
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande / 732-866-1695
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"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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