Keeping our Schools Safe: Agudah’s Hudson Valley Region Albany Day Focuses on Security

Keeping our Schools Safe: Agudah’s Hudson Valley Region Albany Day Focuses on Security

The New York State budget process is a long and arduous one. The many bills and amendments in play mean that there are a lot of moving pieces for the legislators to keep up with. In order to make sure the issues of concern to the Orthodox Jewish community in New York are brought front and center, the Agudah’s New York office hosts a series of “Albany Day” meetings with legislators. The first installment for this year focused on the Hudson Valley region as well as portions of upstate.  

One of the main issues discussed with the legislators was that of the Non-Profit Security Equipment grant (NPSE). With the rise of antisemitic attacks, specifically in New York, making sure our schools are given what they need to be able to protect themselves from such attacks is of the highest priority. The funding for the NPSE program has been stagnant at $15 million for the past few years. This year's executive budget raises that funding to $45 million, while also expanding usage to include critical capital improvements related to safety. This increase along with the expanded usage was in a large measure due to the advocacy of Agudah and its coalition partners. The attendees asked the legislators to pass this line item in the budget.

Another topic brought up was expanding the Empire State child tax credit. The credit only covers children over the age of four. Advocates explained that not funding the credit for children three and under harms working parents who have difficulty covering the cost of childcare. New York is the only state that has such a limit. While Agudah advocates acknowledged that broadening the tax credit in such a manner would be costly to the state, it would assist many families in the Jewish and other communities.

Other issues were also discussed with the legislators. These included special education loans, summer food funding increase, and immunization record keeping reimbursements.  

Today’s Albany Day meetings were attended by Senator Elijah Reichlin–Melnick, and Assemblymembers Josh Jensen, Nader Sayegh, and Kenneth Zebrowski, as well as staff members of Senators Pete Harckham, Michelle Hinchey, Mike Martucci, Shelley Mayer, and James Skoufis, as well as staff members of Assemblymembers Chris Burdick, Sarah Clark, Aileen Gunther, and Amy Paulin. 

“Communication is a crucial part of the advocacy we do at the Agudah. These meetings of Agudah staff, local advocates, and community leaders together with their legislators is key to ensuring that communication takes place. We thank the legislators for their participation and we will continue to be in contact with them throughout the course of the year,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Agudah’s director of New York government relations. “Though titled ‘Albany Day,’ the first installment of this year's series had to be held virtually over Zoom. We look forward to continuing this series in March, hopefully in the halls of the Capitol.”

Photo Credits: By Cheri Alguire

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