With a week to go, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are under mounting pressure to include the Education Investment Tax Credit (EITC), a source of funding so essential to the fast growing Jewish community, in the package of Education reforms as part of the the March 31st yearly State budget.
As reported, sources in Albany said on Monday that the bill, passed by the NY Senate, is likely be omitted from the March 31st budget proposal. Assembly Democrats, the GOP Senate majority and the governor failed to come to an agreement that would tie the DREAM act and the EITC under one proposal. Instead, it was punted until later in session.
In an attempt to stress the importance of passing the bill, as a matter of now or never, Leon Goldenberg, a prominent Brooklyn community activist and host of the “Community Matters” radio program, placed a full page ad in the Hamodia Newspaper on Wednesday, issuing a direct plea to Governor Cuomo, to keep his word and make EITC a reality, without any strings attached.
“Justice delayed is Justice denied,” the headline of the ad reads. “It is now or never.” The ad refers to the governor’s comments during a campaign stop in Borough Park a week before his reelection, in which he stated, ““It’s not charity, it’s not a favor. It’s justice.. TAP, public transportation and the school buses — that was justice. Education tax credit — this is a matter of justice.” The pledge to pass the tax credit after his reelection was met with great optimism and was immediately paid back with a vote of appreciation. Cuomo won the Orthodox Jewish vote in Borough Park section by 70 percent, In the 48th Assembly District, Cuomo got 60.9% of the vote, while his Republican challenger garnered only 37.8% of the vote.
“The Governor told us repeatedly that EITC was a matter of justice. He made this commitment on 3 separate occasions without ever mentioning the Dream Act,” Goldenberg told JP. “The community took the Governor at his word and supported his reelection overwhelmingly.”
Asked why the ad is directed at the governor, who included $100 million in his Executive Budget, Goldenberg said, “We were there for the Governor when he asked us to be and we now need him to be there for us. Families are crushed under the burden of yeshiva tuition and it is a matter of equity and justice. We must help them.”
Earlier Tuesday, State Senator Simcha Felder (D-Felder) hand delivered to the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion thousands of petitions signed by families of the Orthodox Jewish communityas part of a two week petition drive on the EITC.
“Year after year, the Assembly and Governor promise to pass the EITC, and year after year, they break that promise. Parents are not as naïve as the Assembly and Governor think they are. The Assembly and Governor must stop trying to fool us by shifting blame to each other!” Felder said.
Assemblymembers Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaways) and Michael Simanowitz (D-Queens) have already announced that they will vote against the budget in its current form.
JP was informed that Agudath Israel of America is sending an emergency delegation, including Goldenberg and Chaskel Bennett, to Albany tomorrow in an effort to save the EITC legislation.