After months of intense negotiations, Governor Kathy Hochul and the legislature finally came to an agreement on a $220 billion budget over the weekend. Significantly, this budget addresses many of the priorities that Agudath Israel and its coalition partners requested on behalf of yeshivos and parents.
There were many other issues on the negotiating table: bail reform, tax incentives for developers, a new stadium for a football team in Buffalo, and emergency budget extenders needed so state workers could get paid, which all gripped last-minute negotiations. To help cut through the noise, Agudah’s advocacy included personal meetings with the governor, led by Board Chair Mr. Shlomo Werdiger, personal meetings with the NYS Budget Director, and multiple Albany Days, in which school officials and community leaders met with dozens of New York State legislators. Thankfully, these efforts paid off.
Yeshivos and Other Nonpublic Schools
$195 million for Mandated Services Aid (MSA) and Comprehensive Attendance Program (CAP), an increase of almost $2 million, which is anticipated to be sufficient for all claims submitted.
Tens of millions in unspent EANS (Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools) funding reverting to GEER (Governors Emergency Educational Relief funding), so yeshivos would not lose them. The Agudah felt it was critical that unused funds should still be usable by nonpublic schools to assist with costs related to COVID safety.
$45 million for Nonpublic School Safety and Equipment Grant (NPSE). This triples the amount allocated last year and was a major Agudah priority. The NPSE program boosts school safety and security and can be used for certain capital repairs for building safety. This is in addition to $25 million allocated under the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes grant.
$58 million for STEM reimbursement. This initiative was a focus of Teach NYS, and we thank them for their advocacy on this.
$1 million to reimburse schools in New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester for immunization recordkeeping.
A major focus nationally for Agudah has been to assist hardworking, tuition paying parents. The Agudah has been successful in leading efforts that have brought tuition relief to yeshivah parents in Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, and Florida.
To that end, we are happy to announce that the budget includes:
A major investment in child-care aid, which includes $7 billion over four years towards a goal of full, universal, free childcare. This will be a tremendous benefit to many working parents who are burdened with costs of childcare while they are supporting their families.
A substantial increase in the Empire State Child Tax Credit based on income levels. This Agudah priority directly impacts families with children, by putting additional dollars in their pockets and helping them keep up with the costs of raising families.