NY Senate Leadership Tells Joint Orthodox Union/UJA-Federation Delegation to “Be Aggressive” in Advocacy Efforts for Education Tax Credit

Today, members of the New York Senate leadership encouraged a delegation of community and Jewish day school leaders from Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and Upstate—in Albany to support the Education Investment Incentives Act—to “be aggressive” in their advocacy efforts for the bill. The advocacy mission, co-sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York, was the third of four missions OU Advocacy-Teach NYS, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, is bringing to Albany to support the Education Investment Incentives Act, also known as the Education Tax Credit.

The Education Tax Credit is the top legislative priority for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS for the 2015 Legislative Session.

Delegates met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Senator Martin Golden, Secretary of the Majority Conference, Senate Education Chair John Flanagan, and Senator Simcha Felder. The delegation also held 15 individual meetings with members of the Assembly.

“You must be very aggressive to accomplish what you want to accomplish,” said Senator Felder, encouraging the delegates to urge their Assembly Members not to vote for the state budget if it does not include the Education Tax Credit. Senator Golden told the group to “do their job” in order to get the bill passed.

“This mission brought legislators face to face with the Jewish day school parents and students who are directly affected by the Education Tax Credit bill,” said Arielle Frankston-Morris, Director of Field Operations for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS. “It also demonstrates to our community members that their presence in Albany can influence legislators and have a powerful impact on their daily lives.”

Proving the effectiveness of community advocacy, Assembly Member Todd Kaminsky told delegates that he signed on as a co-sponsor of the Education Tax Credit bill after hearing from many of his constituents who support the bill. “Every family deserves a quality education and I’ll continue the fight to make that a reality,” he said.

Shelley Zomberg-Samson, a retired Special Ed teacher who worked for the New York City Board of Education for nearly 35 years, told state legislators that she supports the Education Tax Credit bill, even as a member of the United Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers, because it “helps both public and parochial schools.”

“If passed, the Education Tax Credit would provide millions of dollars in scholarship aid to non-public school students,” said Jake Adler, New York Policy Director for OU Advocacy-Teach NYS. “Since Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign, he has been openly supportive of the Education Tax Credit bill. With his commitment to the bill, the support from the Senate, which passed the bill earlier this year, and a growing amount of support for the bill in the Assembly, we are confident that 2015 will be the year of the Education Tax Credit, to benefit all of New York’s children.”

“The Education Tax Credit would support the entire Jewish day school community in New York, regardless of denomination. We are proud to stand together with the Orthodox Union to support this critical funding bill,” said Jeffrey Leb, Managing Director for Government and External Relations at UJA-Federation of New York.

Prior missions OU Advocacy-Teach NYS organized in support of the Education Tax Credit include a delegation of 30 high school students from Yeshivah of Flatbush and Nazareth Regional High School, and a 50-person delegation of individuals with special needs and mainstream high school students co-sponsored with Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities. The remaining mission will bring parents, students and Jewish day school leaders from Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Staten Island to Albany.

By encouraging individuals and corporations to make charitable contributions to public schools or scholarship-making organizations for tuition-paying families, the Education Tax Credit could generate an unprecedented amount of support to tuition-paying families and ensure that the program benefits the broadest swath of New York’s schoolchildren. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included the credit in his Executive Budget. The bill in the state Senate is sponsored by Senators Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn); in the state Assembly, the bill is sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island).