The end of the New York State Legislative session each June is traditionally a frenzy of activity, often with hundreds of bills getting passed, three way deals between the Senate, Assembly and Executive being consummated, and often large omnibus bills consisting of dozens of items combined into one big bill often derisively referred to as the “big ugly”.
This year was no different. After working four long days and parts of nights the Senate gaveled to a close after midnight on Thursday night while the Assembly adjourned at 7:20 Friday morning after working almost 22 consecutive hours. In the midst of all this activity an omnibus bill was introduced late Thursday evening that contained, among other items, capital budget allocations. Deep among those allocations was a pleasant surprise for our community. An additional $20 million was awarded for nonpublic school and day camp safety and security. This comes on top of the $40 million allocated in the state budget which passed earlier this year. At that time $25 million was set aside for securing communities against hate crimes, while $15 million was designated for nonpublic school safety and security.
Agudath Israel, along with its coalition partners, have been long time advocates for this security funding , and especially in light of the recent attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway, these funds are even more crucial. Agudath Israel thanks Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins along with Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for recognizing the heightened security needs of our community. Particular thanks go to Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein who played a major role in securing these additional grants. He devoted tremendous effort earlier this year to including summer camps among the categories eligible for securing against hate crime grants. Adding summer camps was an initiative originally proposed by Bobov activist Rabbi Joel Rosenfeld, and was a major focus of Agudath Israel’s Albany Day last March.
“More than almost any other issue, security is on the mind of every parent who sends their child to school and summer camps,” said Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel, who spent many days in Albany over the past six months advocating for this and other issues . “We are grateful to the Governor and Legislature for increasing this important funding as the session came to a close.”
“This new allocation of an additional $20 million will go a long way towards ensuring New Yorkers stay safe no matter where they are,” said Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein. “I thank Assembly Speaker Heastie and Governor Cuomo for securing this long overdue funding. The safety and security of our children must be our number one concern. As a member of the Assembly, I have been advocating for security funding since the day I took office and I am grateful that the Governor and my Assembly colleagues recognize the significance of this funding and the difference it will make in keeping thousands of New Yorkers safe.”