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New York State Budget: Gains For Yeshivas And Parents

The New York State Legislature on Friday came to an agreement with Governor Hochul on a budget for 2024-25. The budget contains several significant gains for the families of New York’s yeshivas and other non-public schools, including major legislative priorities of Agudah.

In light of the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas last October 7th in Israel and the corresponding increase in antisemitism in the United States, security became the number one issue on the minds of both parents and school leaders. Security no longer became an option or a luxury, but a necessity. Many yeshivas have a large percentage of students on scholarships and often have to choose between educational enhancements and security upgrades. As a result, Agudah supported an effort to increase the state’s non-public school security program from the current $45 million. This critical initiative was led by Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and was the primary focus of Agudah’s three lobby days. Thankfully, the Legislature prioritized the safety of all students and allocated $70 million, an increase of over 50%. The budget also retains an additional allocation of $35 million in competitive grants for non-profit organizations at risk for hate crimes.

Another focus was the Mandated Services Program (MSA) which reimburses schools for services they provide at the behest of the state such as attendance taking, pupil data, testing, and similar items. Last year’s budget fell short of the full allocation and schools received 4% less than claims submitted and the non-public schools originally anticipated a similar shortfall for the current school year. Thankfully, the executive budget allocated over $239 million for MSA-CAP claims, which will likely make up for the two-year shortfall as well as fund all of the upcoming reimbursements. Agudath Israel thanks the Legislature for keeping the governor’s allocation in the final budget.

These legislative achievements are a testament to the efforts of the many grassroots supporters who visited Albany, met with legislators in the district, or sent emails to their elected officials. Agudah is also privileged to work with other nonpublic school advocates such as Teach NYS, the NYS Catholic Conference and the Jewish Education Project.

“This is a budget we can be proud of”, said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York Government Relations, who led the Agudah advocacy efforts. “Increased security funding and mandated services will benefit the students in every yeshiva and non-public school across the state. We are incredibly grateful to Governor Hochul, Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie and all our champions in the Legislature for recognizing and meeting the needs of the non-public school community.”

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