OU Gratified NYS Budget Restoring Critical Funding for Jewish Schools

31 Mar 2009

Today, the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, through its Institute for Public Affairs, expressed satisfaction that the proposed final New York State budget restores 67 percent of CAP funding for the state mandated safety requirement as well as requiring the state to reimburse schools for the additional 33 percent in a future year, once the fiscal situation improves.

Initially, Governor Paterson’s Executive Budget (the proposed budget) eliminated CAP funds to nonpublic schools entirely. In the supplemental budget, the Governor restored the mandate, but funded it at zero dollars, essentially cutting off hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual schools already hard pressed due to the financial crisis. The OU was part of a diverse, interfaith coalition that advocated on behalf of nonpublic schools, including yeshivas and Jewish day schools to restore the CAP funding, including joining TEACH NYS (a statewide advocacy group dedicated to assisting nonpublic schools) in Albany to advocate before dozens of legislators and the Governor’s staff. Other organizations joining this effort since the release of the Governor’s budget include Agudath Israel, the Catholic Conference, UJO of Williamsburg, Yeshiva University and other concerned groups.

Howie Beigelman, OU Deputy Director of Public Policy stated:
“Thankfully, in a difficult budget year, where no group escaped pain, our elected officials still saw the need to provide critical funds to nonpublic schools, including yeshivas and day schools and to promise an IOU on the unfunded portion. The OU is grateful to Governor David Paterson, Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Smith, as well as Leader Dean Skelos, for their work fashioning this compromise and for their dedication to our community’s institutions.”

Rabbi Saul Zucker, Director of the OU’s Day School & Educational Services Department stated:

“Day schools are facing a one-two punch of shrinking donations and increased scholarship requests. In a recession, every dollar counts and the restoration of these funds was sorely needed and very welcome.”