Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) promised Wednesday to fight for the Education Investment Tax Credit bill even during this year’s session that ends in June. The Bill that many yeshiva parents were counting on fell through during last minute negotiations to include the measure in the 2014-2015 budget.
In an extensive interview with Yated newspaper published on Wednesday, Senator Felder said his job primarily as being an advocate for struggling families with children. “My priority since coming into office is to help parents with the costs that they incur to provide education for their children,” he said.
“We will continue to fight to help tuition paying parents families to get this tax credit passed, even during this session,” Felder promised. “It’s not over till it’s over. Yeshuas Hashem kiheref ayin.”
Felder gave the newspaper a little preview of the budget negotiations and the community’s response to a last minute call for pressure on Albany.
“The parents in our community will continue sending their children to yeshiva no matter what,” he pointed out on the failure of a joint effort with Catholic leaders. “But the Catholic schools are losing many of their students to the public schools simply because parents can’t afford tuition. And it‘s forcing some of their schools to close down.”
Felder also explained why he turned so late in the game to the public to help push the bill, when it was already seen as a lost battle. “Until then we preferred to negotiate quietly, because most of the time that’s the best way to accomplish our goals. But when I saw this thing exploding in front of our eyes, I decided to ask the community for help,” he told Yated. “The response, was overwhelming. What can I tell you? The phone lines were literally flooded. I was told they actually shut down the phone system within the first three hours of our request.”
But in the end, Albany leaders decided the weather the pressure rejected the EITC proposal. “Albany preferred to be beholden to the unions and political power brokers rather than the children of New York and their struggling parents,” Felder charged. “Of the 137 billion dollar budget, less than one hundredth of one percent of it will benefit non-public school issues. They are giving us bubkes.”
A day after Albany leaders announced a budget deal, Felder, a Democrat, threatened to not endorse Governor Cuomo in his reelection bid this fall. Felder was so furious at the Governor for killing his signature bill that he’s considering to endorse Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino for governor, a community leader close to Felder told JP.