Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) announces major victories for the Jewish community in the recently enacted New York State budget. Legislators worked throughout the weekend to garner votes and pass an on-time budget in the early morning hours of April 1. The package of bills addressed several areas of concern for New York’s Jewish communities, including increased security money, investment into yeshivos, beneficial healthcare measures, and funding for Holocaust survivors.

Rosenthal was proud to support the efforts of the Orthodox Union’s Teach NYS Initiative to increase investments in yeshivos and nonpublic education at large. Speaking at a Teach NYS Panel in March, Rosenthal highlighted the importance of STEM education and his own experiences as a yeshivah graduate. These conversations between legislators and leadership led to a $30 million funding stream for STEM, doubling the amount from 2018. The budget also saw a 3.6% increase in mandated services reimbursement and comprehensive attendance policy (CAP) funds. These allocations are the most significant sources of state monies in yeshivos; they were allocated $115 million and $77.4 million respectively.

As anti-Semitic sentiments and hate crimes continue to surface at an alarming rate in New York, the Legislature invested in the protection of our children. While preserving a $15 million fund for nonpublic school security, the package included a new allocation of $25 million to the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes program. Rosenthal also supported legislation that expanded the scope of this program, making these funds available to local day camps.

In the realm of healthcare, Rosenthal announced two key initiatives that affirm New York’s commitment to increased public health. The budget included legislation to require large group health insurance policies to provide coverage for three cycles of in-vitro fertilization and for all carriers to cover medically necessary egg freezing. This measure removes barriers to personal family planning decisions, which were largely cost-prohibitive to many members of the community. It is projected to benefit up to 2.4 million New Yorkers. Additionally, the Legislature approved much-awaited regulations on Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), an industry of middlemen between patients, pharmacies, and insurance companies. The directives require PBMs to fully disclose price-setting methods, and regulates reimbursement rates to eliminate a practice called “spread pricing,” which allowed these companies to profit off New York’s Medicaid system. These measures not only increase medication access while saving taxpayers $43 million annually, it also protects dozens of our local pharmacies which have been facing closures due to unscrupulous PBM practices.

Rosenthal partnered with Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and his Assembly colleagues in securing $250 million in a safety net program for New York’s aging Holocaust survivors. These funds will directly assist survivors in paying for medical bills, homecare assistance, mental health resources, and many other unique needs for our vulnerable population.

“The needs facing our communities are unique in scope and circumstance,” said Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal. “While this year’s budget is far from perfect, I am proud to have supported efforts to fund essential items that benefit all New Yorkers. We affirm our commitment to fully securing the education of our students while giving priority to the safety and security of our children. Increasing access to important health procedures and medication was vital to preserving the rights of families to make sensitive and personal healthcare decisions. There is much work left to be done, and I look forward to carrying this momentum through the remainder of the legislative session.”

Not included in this year’s budget were changes to substantial equivalency reviews. Rosenthal and colleagues have opened dialogue with various stakeholders to address recent guidelines from New York State Department of Education that would encroach on the independence of non-public schools. All schools would be subject to regular inspections by local school boards, regardless of performance measures. He recently met with Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to convey concerns about this overstep. Rosenthal is currently exploring legislative options to address this issue.

Rosenthal Provides Updates
to Jewish Community about Budget