web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

New York State Achieves Historic Funding Support for Yeshivas

This year, we were able, through our advocacy, to ensure our children’s participation in new programs – as of right. These include both the budget’s Smart Schools bond and Universal Pre-K (UPK) programs.

New York State Assembly Chamber

New York State Assembly Chamber
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

As New York State’s legislative session began in January, our community – and the nonpublic school community broadly – had the highest hopes. For the first time in perhaps decades, there were several legislative proposals on Albany’s agenda that, taken together, would significantly support Jewish day schools and bolster their finances.

And while New York legislators did not enact all the measures we sought, we see, with the budget having been finalized last week, that we achieved historic levels of government support for our schools in the Empire State.

These successes are the result of our community’s advocacy, its partnership with likeminded allies, and the responsiveness of the legislative and executive leadership in supporting our community’s needs.

We are privileged to have allies in Albany such as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The speaker has been an ally on efforts to bring real funding to help alleviate affordability issues facing yeshivas and day schools, and that was the case in this budget cycle.

We also express our deep gratitude to Senate co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein and to Governor Cuomo for their commitment to creatively serving our community.

Still, some in our community are critical of our state leaders because we did not see every item on our wish list become law. Certainly, we share the concerns that the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) did not make it into the final budget agreement, though it was a lofty goal. Almost a decade ago, when TEACH-NYS was first formed and OU Advocacy was initially expanding its policy and political efforts to statehouses, this was the first policy each of us supported in Albany.

However, even without EITC, this new budget, taken objectively, is the best any yeshiva day school advocate has seen in decades. That’s true in terms of net dollars and cents, and it’s equally true on precedent-setting inclusion in new state funding programs.

New York’s Mandated Services Reimbursement (MSR) is fully funded this year at $90 million and an additional $7 million was allocated to pay past-due amounts. In addition, CAP, the Comprehensive Attendance Program, an anti-truancy mandate from the state, is now at $45 million, an increase from last year and the largest amount we have received for this funding.

Furthermore, an additional $16 million in back payment for CAP was allocated, equal to over ten percent of amounts owed. The back payment was part of an unprecedented multi-year payment plan, championed by Speaker Silver, which will ensure that the state make good on the hundreds of millions of dollars in CAP arrears. This represents the largest combined payback of the CAP and MSR debts owed our schools. These are bedrock state programs for the nonpublic school community.

In addition, nonpublic schools will receive almost $5 million in security funds. Besides the crucial, lifesaving need this program – like its federal counterpart, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program – addresses, what is unique here is that last year’s initial $4.5 million grants were thought to be a one-time allocation. However, we have now proven that with dedicated advocacy we can maintain such programs. The security funding came about last year as a separate allocation due to our community schools being left out of the state’s SAFE Act for public schools.

This year we were able, through our advocacy, to ensure our children’s participation in new programs including both the budget’s Smart Schools bond and Universal Pre-K (UPK) programs. In neither of the initial versions of these programs was there equal or equitable treatment of nonpublic school students.

Of course, there is no reason – legal, constitutional, or policy – for students to be left out just because they are in a nonpublic school. Every child deserves the most current technology if they are to learn to be productive in our tech-centered society. Every child – in any program – deserves that opportunity.

Over $31 million will be available to our community if the bond proposal passes in a voter referendum, and any school is able to access UPK reimbursement so long as they have a certified teacher (for which reimbursement is $10,000/student) or are working toward certification (reimbursed at $7,000). These provisions of the new budget are almost surely a result of the Assembly Majority’s budget, due to Speaker Silver’s insistence.

We cannot thank enough our professional staff, their partners in our coalition (Agudath Israel, the Catholic Conference, and UJA-Federation), and the dedicated educators, rabbis, community leaders, parents, and especially students who called, e-mailed, and traveled to Albany to press this case.

But of one thing we are certain: as important as advocacy is, it is nothing without champions in elected office. Champions like Assembly Speaker Silver, who continues to be an advocate for our cause each and every day and who fought for unprecedented funding in this budget cycle. Champions like Senate co-leaders Klein and Skelos and Governor Cuomo, who helped deliver this record funding.

We must note that the year is not over. Special education funding and energy parity legislation are still being debated in Albany. We can continue to succeed through the continued partnership of our communal advocates and our legislative champions.

About the Author: Mssrs. Bendheim and Sutton are co-chairs, OU Advocacy-TEACH NYS


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “New York State Achieves Historic Funding Support for Yeshivas”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz Calls for Financial Boycott of Universities Backing BDS Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Keeping-Jerusalem

For a peace treaty with the PA, half the Israeli public would agree to divide the Jerusalem

As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.

What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.

There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.

Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.

Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion

Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry

Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

More Articles from Jack Bendheim and Sam Sutton
New York State Assembly Chamber

We are certain of this: advocacy is important, but it’s nothing without champions in elected office.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/new-york-state-achieves-historic-funding-support-for-yeshivas/2014/04/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: