Lakewood Briefs

Agudah Welcomes Nonpublic School Spending Increases in NJ Budget

The Agudath Israel of America welcomed increases in funding items for non-public school students in the state’s 2022 budget.

The most significant increase comes by way of an additional $4,000,000 that was added to the Nonpublic Auxiliary Services Aid fund. The funds go to reimburse teachers, tutors, and therapists for a wide range of support services to students who require extra help outside of the classroom. For over a decade, the funding level remained stagnant as the number of pupils needing services rapidly increased, leaving insufficient money to provide the necessary services for many of them. Last year, an additional $6,000,000 was added.

Additionally, the nonpublic school technology initiative was increased by $1,000,000.

Other private school expenses that are funding by the state such as transportation, security, textbooks, and nursing remained at prior levels.

“Governor Murphy and the New Jersey legislature have once again proven themselves to be dedicated to the education of all New Jersey’s students,” said Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudah’s New Jersey division. He specifically thanked Deputy Assembly Speaker Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) for his advocacy for nonpublic school funding issues.

The budget was negotiated by Democratic leaders in the legislature and Governor Phil Murphy who unveiled their proposal last week. It was quickly approved of in both houses in a party line vote and by law must be signed by the Governor before July 1.

Ocean County Legislators Criticize NJ Budget

Ocean County legislators joined a chorus of their fellow Republicans in criticizing both the process and result of the state’s budget unveiled last week.

The budget was unique in that federal bail-out money from various COVID relief packages coupled with billions more in revenue than originally expected gave New Jersey its first surplus in many years.

Some of that money is being re-directed towards taxpayers directly as well as being used to help stabilize the state’s long insolvent pension fund.

Republicans and some Democrats criticized what they saw as a lack of transparency on talks of how to deal with the surplus as the budget was almost entirely negotiated between the Governor’s office and Democratic legislative leaders.

“This state budget process was awful for transparency. It undermines the guiding principles that are important to every democracy,” said Senator Samuel Thomson (R-Ocean)

Senator Robert Singer (R-Ocean) said that the level of spending the budget laid out was not fiscally responsible.

“The budget that Democrats approved today is really around $51 billion when you add the federal dollars in received by New Jersey in recent months. It’s unsustainable into the future. It’ll lead to drastic budget cuts next year or huge increases in taxes,” he said.

A set of three legislators from Southern Ocean County, Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano, criticized the budget for funding new projects in northern Jersey while cutting expenditures to several public-school districts in their area.

“Instead of funding our schools fairly, Democrats have decided to cut aid from our classrooms and redirect it into pork projects in their districts,” stated Senator Holzapfel. “It says a lot about their priorities and how they’re choosing to fund wasteful programs over our children. This lavish spending in a post-Covid world is going to devastate our taxpayers and our school children for years to come.”

Rep. Smith on Surfside Tragedy

As efforts continued to clear the rubble left by the collapse of a condo in Miami Florida, Congressman Chris Smith offered words of support specifically for the families of the Weiszes, a Lakewood couple listed among those missing.

“We pray that Benny and Malky Weisz of Lakewood, and Malky’s father Harry Rosenberg—and all those who remain missing—are found and rescued after the catastrophic collapse of their condo building in Florida early yesterday—nurturing the hope that the expertise, tenacity and bravery of rescue workers will result in finding them and others presumed trapped in debris,” he said. “This is a rescue operation not recovery. People have survived for days under rubble.”

Rep. Smith said that he had spoken with the offices of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Ron DeSantis “to urge that an apparent offer by an Israeli search and rescue team be seriously considered and accepted.” He had also spoken with a friend of the Weiszes, “to convey my deep concern.”

Mr. and Mrs. Weisz are Lakewood residents. They were in Miami to visit Mrs. Weisz’s father, who was a resident in the condo at the time of the collapse.