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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Albany’

Albany Beats

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Pay Raise Issue Takes Center Stage

This past legislative session was the first one in more than 15 years during which a state lawmaker was not indicted or convicted of a crime. There were, however, several close advisers to the governor, state employees, and contractors who were indicted or resigned from their positions in a massive house cleaning last month.

Now state lawmakers and the governor’s executive team are making a strategic push for a pay raise through a seven-member commission created last year and formally known as The New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive Compensation.

According to the commission’s website, the commission was established as “an independent body tasked with examining, evaluating and making recommendations with respect to compensation for New York State’s judges, members of the state legislature, and certain state officials. The recommendations take effect unless modified or abrogated by legislation prior to taking effect.”

Several lawmakers either testified or submitted testimony to the commission supporting a pay raise; some lawmakers, mainly Republicans, have called on the commission to reject a raise.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D – Bronx) told The Jewish Press, “Legislators who do the right thing should not be punished for doing their jobs. Lawmakers have done a good job. I don’t think that the legislators who unfortunately have done the wrong thing should [affect] all legislators [who] have to suffer by not getting a pay raise. I wouldn’t even call it a pay raise. It’s about members needing a cost of living adjustment. There hasn’t been a raise since 1998. The salary of the legislators has actually been deflated to having the buying power of about $53,000 a year.”

Looking at it the other way, the $79,500 base salary lawmakers earn is worth $116,000 in 1999 dollars.

Assemblyman Phil Steck (D – Colonie, Albany County) told the commission he is concerned about leveraging.

“The governor can write a book while he’s governor, and get a very large advance for it, but no one who is not in a position of governor, speaker, or a resident of the Senate could do such a thing and expect anybody to want to read it,” Steck said, referring to the 2014 release of All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life, a 500-page memoir penned by Gov. Cuomo. It has not sold very well (approximately 3,000 hard cover copies) but Cuomo received a handsome advance of $700,000 from publisher Harper Collins for his efforts.

“There is certainly no problem with someone writing a book after they leave governmental service, and getting whatever amount of income they want,” Steck continued, “but perhaps at that point and time no one would be interested in reading it. So…I think the problems that we run into have absolutely nothing to do with the outside income; they have to do with leveraging. And there is almost no one, in either body, who is in a position to do that.”

The commission is also deciding on whether to recommend executive chamber pay hikes for agency heads in the Cuomo administration.

State budget director Robert Mujica noted that due to low salaries, the governor’s administration has a 24 percent vacancy rate for nine agency commissioners. Mujica told the commission that agency heads “have not had a pay raise since 1999 and inflation has increased by 45 percent during that time.”

Some agency heads “earn less than the people they supervise, which is not a sound management practice,” according to Mujica.

Referencing the legislative pay raise, commission member Roman Hedges, an appointee of the state Assembly, said: “Our mission is particularly difficult because we’re being asked to recommend salaries for a job that exists within certain parameters, right now, but that may change [or] that may not change. It’s as if the job that we’re being asked to recommend a salary for is a constantly moving target or, potentially, a constantly moving target and, I think, that makes our work particularly difficult.”

The commission is expected to make its final conclusions, determinations, findings, and recommendations next month. The legislature does not have to ratify the decision. The commission will convene in 2019 to once again examine lawmakers’ salary status.

Marc Gronich

Popular Albany Kosher Restaurant Gives Up Supervision

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

“It is with great sadness that This Thursday, September 29th will be the last day that Terra will be Kosher under the supervision of the Vaad,” went the announcement this week on the Facebook page of a unique vegetarian restaurant at 238 Washington Ave., in Albany, NY. Terra, with a large international menu of Vegetarian, Vegan and Pescetarian (pronounced pes·ca·tar·i·an, meaning dining on fish) dishes boasts of being the only full service restaurant of its kind between NYC and Montreal.

Until Thursday, Terra has been under the supervision of the Vaad Hakahsruth of the Capital District, and Rabbi Moshe Bomzer (Orthodox) was the Rav HaMachshir.

The restaurant’s Facebook pages stated plainly: “It has been our privilege to have served the community for almost 22 months. However, without the Jewish travelers, the local support is simply not enough. (Travel season ended after Labor Day).”

“On behalf of our owner, Dzavid Cekic and the ‘man with the dream’ for a kosher restaurant in the Capital District, Howard Katz, we want to say THANK YOU to all who help make TERRA possible. We hope you will stop in on Wednesday or Thursday ‘one moe time’ for a pizza or dinner to say ‘farewell, until we meet again.'”

The Facebook entry promised that “if there is a show of support, we will look to resurrect a new Capital District kosher Restaurant in a smaller space, in a location more suitable for our locals. Thank you again, one and all.”

Terra's Eggplant Parmesan

Terra’s Eggplant Parmesan

Before the closing announcement, Terra claimed that it served “The BEST Eggplant Parmesan in the Capital District, and it ‘happens to be’… Cholov Yisroel Kosher!!!”

Ah, well.

The Terra move represents a loss of 25% of the kosher restaurants available around Albany and Saratoga Springs, NY. For the list of the remaining three, click here.

David Israel

Albany Beat

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Trump Receives NY Conservative Nod

The New York State Conservative Party, with 160,000 enrolled members across the state, gave Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a boost with an endorsement from a majority of the conservatives gathered at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square this month. Some of the party’s committee members abstained from supporting Trump.

New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told The Jewish Press, “[Trump]’s a strong supporter of Israel, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He was the grand marshal of the Israel Day parade. Unlike President Obama he wouldn’t be chastising [Israel Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with the suggestions that Donald Trump has flip-flop positions,” Long continued. “Trump has always been against illegal immigration. The message may come across a little differently but he talks policy and we’re beginning to understand his true and exact position on these issues and they are consistent. His policy is consistent with his rhetoric. He clearly is enunciating a conservative agenda. Taxation, immigration, jobs are all conservative views Trump holds. He understands we’re losing jobs to Mexico, to the Far East. He gets elected, that’s going to end.”

“There’s no hope other than if I become president,” Trump told the enthusiastic crowd upon accepting the endorsement. “We’re going to bring jobs back to New York. We have to bring back our businesses. We can’t let our remaining businesses go. If they go and they make a product and they want to move and send the product back over our borders and yet fire all our people and not pay taxes and they think they’re going to send that over the border and there’s not going to be consequences? Not gonna happen.”

Trump had this message for employers who move manufacturing jobs to other countries (as in fact he himself has): “Every time you make your product and you think you’re going to send it over, you’re going to pay a 35 percent tax every single time. We’re going to bring our businesses back.”

Not everyone at the state convention was enamored with Trump. Nachman Mostofsky, a voting member of the Conservative Party, is one of several party members who disagreed with the Trump endorsement.

“He’s not a conservative,” said Mostofsky, a member of the Brooklyn Conservative Committee. “We’re a political party. We have a platform to advance conservatism. He’s not a conservative. He shouldn’t have our party line. My problem is his need to start a tariff war. We should not be rubber-stamping the Republican party’s choice.”

Another party member not enamored with Trump is Ross Brady, the treasurer of the Brooklyn Conservative Committee. His concern about Trump is that “he has no guiding principles whatsoever.”

Brady abstained from the Trump endorsement but supported Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence. Brady says he is still going to vote for the Trump-Pence ticket in November because “they are the lesser of two evils.”


Jewish Presence Dwindling In State Legislature

Earlier this month New Yorkers went to the polls to cast their ballots in several primary battles. Due to a lack of opposition in November or lopsided enrollment numbers in these district races, many of those primary results in effect determined the final results in November.

There will be at least 15 new faces in the 150-member state Assembly next year (with five other Assemblymembers who came into office earlier this year and will be serving out their first full term), making it a 13 percent turnover rate in the lower house in one year.

Five of the newly filled 20 Assembly seats (or 25 percent) have flipped from being held by Jewish lawmakers to non-Jewish lawmakers. This leaves only 18 members (12 percent) who identify as Jewish. All are Democrats.

In the State Senate there will be six new faces next year with another three running for their first full term, having been picked by party leaders to fill out the term of an incumbent bounced from office. There are nine lawmakers (14 percent) who identify as being Jewish in the 63-member upper house. There are two contested races with one Jewish candidate vying for an open Senate seat in a Republican stronghold. There is only one Jewish Republican in the Senate but Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park) caucuses with the Republicans. There are nine senators who identify as Jewish. After November, there could be a tenth.

There are three Senate districts and 27 Assembly districts that have no Jewish footprint.


Felder Proud Of Diss From Environmental Activists

The Environmental Advocates lobby group releases a legislative scorecard each year that rates whether elected officials voted “correctly” on bills the group deems as important. This year the Environmental Planning Lobby’s scorecard showed the environmental voting record of State Senator Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park) improved from 44 percent to 57 percent over the past year.

Even with his improved score, however, the environmental group bestowed its infamous Oil Slick award on Felder, who graciously and proudly accepted it.

What was all the tzimmis (fuss) about? A bill sponsored by Felder and supported by members on both sides of the aisle in both houses would establish a prohibition on the imposition of any tax, fee, or local charge on carryout merchandise bags.

There were eight cosponsors to this measure. One senator, Diane Savino, received a lower overall score than Felder. Another, Andrew Lanza, received the same overall score as Felder and four cosponsors received overall scores of 82 or greater. This shows that even those considered friends of the environmental lobby group went against the wishes of the environmentalists.

Felder was given the Oil Slick award because the bill “would have blocked communities statewide from taking action to reduce needless plastic bag waste, which is costing local taxpayers as it damages wastewater systems, pollutes waterways, and gets landfilled,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of EPL/Environmental Advocates.

Felder countered the environmentalists’ position with a public health argument:

“If customers do begin to provide their own carryout bags, as those who support this tax or fee intend, such reusable bags will undoubtedly present a serious public health issue. For such reusable bags often present the risk of bringing into the store a contaminate of food-based disease, bacteria or other illness, which can cause serious cross-contamination or infection for both the customer, or other customers, or store employees. Issues such as salmonella, or other bacteria or viruses, which escape from food previously carried in the reusable bag, or which are being spread from the exposure to customer’s own home environment, can be easily spread from exposure to the reusable bag.

Marc Gronich

Albany Beat

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Orthodox Rabbis Urge Leniency In Child Porn Case

The Albany Orthodox Jewish community was rocked by the sentencing of Michael Isaacson, convicted in federal court on three counts of child pornography charges.

“On March 1, Isaacson admitted that he distributed child pornography files over the Internet,” according to Richard Hartunian, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York. “He also admitted to possessing more than 1,000 image files, and more than 30 video files, depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit poses or conduct, some children were less than 12 years of age.”

The images were obtained from Internet websites and peer-to-peer file sharing network, according to the indictment. Isaacson was snagged by a law enforcement agent acting in an undercover capacity.

Isaacson, 34, was sentenced on August 1 to five years in a federal penitentiary and 25 years of supervised release. During his incarceration he will be required to participate in the Bureau of Prisons Sex Offender Treatment Program, mental health treatment, and must register as a sex offender, a lifetime societal stigma.

In letters of support from several people from the local Jewish community, including three rabbis, it was revealed Isaacson suffers from ADHD/ADD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and unnamed physical maladies.

The three rabbis and several community leaders wrote to U.S. Senior Judge Gary Sharpe that because Isaacson has become an observant Jew since his indictment two years ago, he should be treated leniently during his sentencing. Isaacson’s supporters attested that he is kind, gentle, introverted, troubled, and a good person.

“I realize that Michael stands accused of serious criminal internet usage,” wrote Rabbi Yisroel Rubin, spiritual leader of Congregation Shomray Torah. “I truly plead that he not be judged too harshly, as he is basically a good person who can be rehabilitated rather than completely crushed.”

“I think Michael is a good citizen and a safe, upright productive member of society and deserves a second chance,” wrote Rabbi Mendy Mathless. “I hold Michael’s character in high regard and hope you would consider a shorter sentence based on who I believe Michael truly is.”

“I sincerely believe Michael has learned from his experience and given the proper medication, mental health support, and rehabilitation he will be able to return as a positive member of our community and society,” Rabbi Dr. Moshe Bomzer, Isaacson’s spiritual advisor and a licensed social worker, wrote in his letter of support.

Addressing Isaacson’s incarceration, Rabbi Bomzer requested that the sentence be served at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey.

“It is a facility able to care for his psychiatric needs as well as his religious needs. It is a facility close enough to be visited by clergy (from Lakewood) and volunteer alike and be supported by family and friends.”

“Despite Michael’s legal and moral aberration, he had been faithfully attending a small Orthodox synagogue in Albany and was attempting to further his understanding and practice of Judaism,” wrote Sanford Rosenblum, a respected personal injury attorney from Albany and Monsey, who is closely connected to Rabbis Rubin and Bomzer.

“Fort Dix is only 20 minutes from Lakewood, New Jersey, where there is a thriving Orthodox Jewish community that does significant outreach to nearby Jewish prisoners. We believe that the kind of support Michael is sure to receive from the Lakewood community would not only ease the challenges he faces but may actually allow him to benefit spiritually.”


Goldfeder Gets YU Gig; Will Not Complete Assembly Term

Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D – Far Rockaway, Queens) has agreed to take a position as the head of government relations for Yeshiva University.

University officials confirmed that he will begin his position in the fall. Goldfeder’s legislative term ends December 31, 2016, which means he will resign from office prior to the end of his term.

Goldfeder, a Brooklyn College graduate, concentrated his coursework in the fields of political science, marketing, and sociology.

According to his biography, Goldfeder began his career in public service as a community liaison for the New York City Council. He was offered a position as the Queens director for the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit under Michael Bloomberg. He then moved on to become director of intergovernmental affairs for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D – Brooklyn).

Goldfeder was elected to the Assembly in September 2011. Since he assumed office his legislative battles have included improving transportation, increasing healthcare, and creating jobs. Committee.

Under state ethics laws, Goldfeder is barred from lobbying state lawmakers for two years but can lobby the New York City Council, Congress, state agencies, and the governor’s office. “Goldfeder will comply with all his legal obligations,” university officials told The Jewish Press. “The rest of the university’s government relations team will help support any areas he is unable to provide.”

Goldfeder currently lives in Far Rockaway with his wife, Esther, and their three children.

Vying to succeed Goldfeder is Democrat Stacey Pfeffer Amato, 50, daughter of Goldfeder’s predecessor, Audrey Pfeffer, the Queens County Clerk. Rockaway Republican Alan Zwirn, 66, a retired city public school teacher and member of the West End Temple in Far Rockaway, is also vying for Goldfeder’s seat.


Albany Jewish Developer Seeking to Upgrade Troy

Elected officials and community leaders gathered at the building that once housed the Troy Record newspaper to announce the conversion of the vacant building into a 101-unit mixed-use loft five-story apartment building. The Rosenblum Companies purchased the property last September for $1.6 million. The project is expected to cost $23.4 million and take 18 months to complete.

“While we’ve entered a new phase of growth at The Rosenblum Companies, our focus is not on being the biggest, but undertaking innovative, sustainable projects that create lasting value for our company, clients and communities,” said Seth Rosenblum, chief executive officer of The Rosenblum Companies.

“To take part in Troy’s renaissance by giving the historic Troy Record building a second life, bringing the first new construction market rate apartments to downtown, and reinforcing the walkability between RPI and the Central Business District, is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that checks all the boxes.”

Marc Gronich

Cheese Dreams Turn Sour For Albany Businessman

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D – Manhattan) has issued a multi-count indictment against Lawrence Rosenbaum, 64, of Albany, accusing him with fraudulently soliciting more than $1 million from a number of investors to advance the production of kosher and halal cheese in upstate New York.

Rosenbaum was also planning on developing alternative bio-energy companies from the waste produced by cows in the cheese and milk facilities.

Rosenbaum is accused of luring investors, many of whom he had established relationships with over his decades-long career as an insurance broker, and then diverting their monies for his own personal use.

The indictment only lists five individuals and one corporate entity, totaling investments of $76,250, not the $1 million alleged in the news release. As we went to press the attorney general’s office had not responded to a request for an explanation of the discrepancy.

Prosecutors also allege that Rosenbaum failed to file New York state personal income tax returns since at least 2008, thereby evading taxes on the money he diverted to himself over the six-year scheme.

“Investors should be able to trust that their hard-earned money is being is properly managed and is not being pocketed for personal use,” said Schneiderman in a prepared statement. “My office takes allegations of securities fraud seriously and we will continue to advocate for victims and hold fraudsters accountable.”

Rosenbaum has been remanded to the Albany County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail. In a jailhouse interview, Rosenbaum told The Jewish Press he’s known for the past three years that prosecutors were investigating his business dealings. During that time Rosenbaum says he stepped up efforts to produce kosher and halal cheese in various factories across the country. He changed the name of his company from the Saratoga Cheese Corporation to Rosenbaum Cheese Company a few years ago.

“Now is the time to introduce other gourmet cheeses, made CY [chalav Yisrael] and command the same normal gourmet market cheese prices,” Rosenbaum had declared to investors. “We are currently at Stage 1 and have produced our first test run of 600 pounds of gourmet goat feta cheese. It will be packaged by November 21, 2015. We are also prepared to produce some English style gourmet cheeses as CY, such as Cheshire, Double Gloucester, and Abergele in Wisconsin. We are also formulating our distinctive CY Chedam Cheese 108 slices, to compete against the 108 slices CY American Processed Cheese.”

Rosenbaum also claims he can use by-products from the cheeses for kosher for Passover alcohol with the highest of rabbinic certifications.

“Projected profit from the first three million pounds of cheese production is expected to be $1million from cheese sales and $1 million from the sale of the whey by-products; whey protein concentrate, and permeate. Because our whey is chalav Yisrael, it has very special value. The permeate will be sold to a separate company on premises, which will distill the permeate into potable non-grain alcohol, kosher for Passover, exported to Israel, for the Passover season.”

Rosenbaum had been networking his business in various circles and since the probe by the attorney general commenced he has been to at least two KosherFest business-to-business trade shows, the shluchim convention in Crown Heights, and the Islamic Center in Rockaway, New Jersey.

At least one investor contacted by The Jewish Press is standing by Rosenbaum and says having him in prison because he cannot make the high bail only hurts the progress Rosenbaum was making developing the business. Chaim Schaffer, a real estate agent and part-time actor in Albany, says he spent several hours earlier this year speaking to prosecutors from the attorney general’s office.

Marc Gronich

Albany Beat

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Child Abuse Takes Center Stage In Albany

A particularly frustrating and gut-wrenching issue dominating the final days of the legislative session concerns a push to remove the statute of limitations for prosecuting sex abusers of children.

The law currently states that after a victim or survivor of abuse reaches the age of 23 he or she cannot prosecute the perpetrator either criminally or civilly.

Since abuse victims are often very slow to come to grips with what happened to them – some not until middle age or even later in life – the bill sponsors, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth, Queens) and Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Greenwich Village, Manhattan), contend the statute of limitations needs to be eliminated.

Earlier this month more than 150 Jewish organizations held a two-day rally at the Capitol lobbying lawmakers to support the legislation.

Even though he is not a New Yorker, one case in point involves 40-year-old Manny Waks, an Australian who was sexually abused twice, once at age 11 and again at age 14. Waks is chief executive officer of Kol v’Oz, a nonprofit focused to prevent child abuse in the global Jewish community.

“I was sexually abused at the age of 11,” Waks said on “The Jewish View,” a television program taped in Albany. “I grew up in a [frum] community in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve got 16 brothers and sisters. There were two perpetrators in my case. Both were in their 20s at the time. One of the perpetrators is currently sitting in jail in Australia and the other one is free in New York…. shielded by the statute of limitations.”

These incidents had a major impact on Waks and his family.

“Between the ages of 11 and 14 I was rebelling against religion. For example, at my bar mitzvah I was completely disinterested in the religious component of it. I forced myself to eat non-kosher even though I was very uncomfortable doing it. I forced myself to turn the light off on Shabbat,” Waks said.

One day Waks said he heard about Operation Paradox, which encouraged people to report abuse to the authorities.

“Until that moment, for some reason, I had never even considered going to the authorities. By the time I reported my abuse I was totally secular. I had no interest in religion or going to a bet din, where there is no statute of limitations, so that was never an option. I disclosed my abuse at the age of 20. At that point I went straight to my father, told him what happened and to his credit, he contacted the police. I told my father because I couldn’t tell my mother. This is still a topic we rarely discuss,” noted Waks.

Now Waks is married and a father of three children.

In a compassionate explanation of their opposition to the legislation, Agudath Israel of America and Torah Umesorah wrote to Markey “fully acknowledging the horror of child sexual abuse and the devastating long-term scars it all too often creates. Our rabbinic and lay leadership is acutely aware of the emotional trauma and damage caused by the perpetrators of such abuse. We are committed as a community to do whatever we can to institute preventative measures designed to prevent child abuse, to root out perpetrators of child abuse from our schools and other communal institutions, and to help victims on the road to healing and recovery.”

As the measure relates to eliminating the statute of limitations and allows for civil penalties against a private religious institution in perpetuity, Agudath Israel parts company with the sponsors of the legislation.

“This legislation could literally destroy schools, houses of worship that sponsor youth programs, summer camps and other institutions that are the very lifeblood of communities like ours…” wrote Rabbi David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel. “This bill would allow lawsuits only against private organizations but not against public schools and other public institutions. There is something very wrong with that dichotomy. Simply stated, as currently worded, this bill could subject schools and other vital institutional in communities like ours to ancient claims and litigation and place their very existence in severe jeopardy.”

Waks, however, said the groups are “putting their interest and the interest of their institutions above the interests of the victims and that’s what I said earlier and its time that we put the interests and well-being of victims and survivors and their families ahead of the interests and the well-being of the perpetrators and their enablers.”

Despite the opposition, the 74-year-old Markey vows not to leave office without the bill being passed by both houses and signed into law. The bill is currently being held in Assembly and Senate Codes committees.

Corruption Update: Calls For Pension Forfeiture

Three former top lawmakers were sentenced this month after being convicted on federal corruption charges. It seems good government groups are more upset about this rash of misdeeds than the public, even though since 2000 there have been 17 senators and 27 assembly members who have left office after facing a judge and being convicted on a raft of charges including conspiracy, extortion, solicitation of bribes, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, making false statements, bribery, fraud, lying to federal agents during a corruption investigation, felony tax evasion, money laundering, election irregularities, per diem travel voucher scam, using campaign funds for personal expenses, sexual harassment of legislative employees, groping, intimidating, and manipulating young female staffers.

Good government groups such as the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Common Cause, Reinvent Albany, Citizens Action and the League of Women Voters want lawmakers to pass an ethics reform package with preventative measures discouraging legislative corruption, such as loss of pensions for convicted former officeholders.

“We agree that the judges should have the power to yank the pensions [for state lawmakers],” declared Blair Horner, executive director of NYPIRG. “I would think perfecting my hedge clipping skills wearing an orange jumpsuit would be a far more scary prospect than losing my pension. Going to prison, hanging out in the slammer, being in the pokey, however you want to put it, should be the deterrent as compared to losing the pension. Given the historic nature of the incredible levels of corruption and scandal that engulfed the state Capitol, for the only response to be taking away someone’s pension, that’s not good enough.”

Marc Gronich

Albany Beat

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Felder May Return To Democratic Conference; EITC Defeated Once Again

The failure to include the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC) in the latest state budget has many factions roiled. It is seen as a victory for the teachers’ unions and another blow for groups such as the Catholic Conference, Agudath Israel of America, (AIA) and the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks prior to passage of the state budget, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D – Greenwich Village, Manhattan) released a statement in her newsletter regarding the tax credit proposal.

The EITC, she said, “would create a tax credit for 75 percent credit up to $1 million for donations made to private, parochial or public schools,” Glick wrote. “The Assembly rejects this proposal.”

Glick is the chairwoman of the Assembly committee on Higher Education and a member of the powerful Rules and Ways and Means committees.

Senator Jesse Hamilton (D – Crown Heights, Brooklyn) says he voted for the EITC bill when it came up on the first day of session. He also voted for the budget bill that did not include the EITC. He says that despite his support of EITC, unions will still support his reelection.

“I have a vested interest in this too,” Hamilton said on “The Jewish View,” a television program taped in Albany. “My son goes to parochial school. The unions will still back me. One issue doesn’t define Jesse Hamilton.”

Hamilton is advocating for a compromise solution.

“I think it has to be modified somewhat,” he said, “where if you just look at it from that parental point of view where if a parent is getting it versus someone who has no child in the school that might be more palatable for some opponents to swallow. If it was just geared to the parents, where if I’m a parent and I paid $10,000 and I can get $9,000 back as a tax credit, that’s more palatable. To let some investment banker get a tax credit for donating to any school they want, such as a school their best friend’s child is going to [is not right]. I think it has to be more for the parents who are paying the money, not for investors who are donating the money to the schools because the parents should be the one getting the tax credit not some person who has no child in the school system.”

AIA, which was lobbying hard for passage of EITC, said the budget is a mixed bag of successes and disappointments for the group.

“We of course appreciate the funding for safety equipment for nonpublic schools and the increases in reimbursements of Mandated Services and CAP (Comprehensive Attendance Program) – these are very important and we are very grateful,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudath Israel’s executive vice president. “For those of us who deal with the State Education Department on an ongoing basis, having a dedicated Office for Religious and Independent Schools will make a real difference in accessing services for our yeshivas. We are, however, disappointed at the absence of any form of education tax credits. Agudath Israel will continue to battle for the interests of yeshivas, the most precious communal asset we have.”

The repercussions of this failed attempt to pass the EITC may lead to a defection from the Republican conference by a frustrated Senator Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park, Brooklyn).

On “The Jewish View,” Hamilton said he thinks Felder will come back to the Democratic side of the aisle because he’s upset with the Republicans.

“Simcha felt that the Republican Senate didn’t fight hard enough for it so the last vote for the budget, Simcha was the only person who voted ‘no’ to voice his opposition to what had happened,” Hamilton said. “I voted for the bill because it also included the minimum wage, paid family leave act, it had a lot of things in it. I was upset because they gave us the budget two hours before we voted on it. I got the budget at 7 o’clock in the morning after being up for 20 hours. I think Simcha is trying to get the best for his community and he realized with the Senate Republicans he could not get the support he needed.”

Marc Gronich

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