July 20, 2024
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Weinberg: Forget About Vouchers Happening Anytime Soon

Teaneck—In a recent phone interview with State Senate Majority Whip Loretta Weinberg, the legislator said that no school voucher bills will be passing through the legislature down in Trenton next session. She did say, however, that the legislature trying to get funding for non-sectarian services in sectarian schools (including yeshivot and day schools), especially for students with special needs… “and,” she acknowledged, “there are problems even with that.”

Parents of children in day schools and yeshivot were hoping that the NJ legislature would pass a bill permitting school vouchers in order to get them some much needed tuition relief. “Tuition tax credits are a better possibility, until we get over budget problems,” she said.

According to Weinberg, getting aid to non-sectarian programs in yeshivot and day schools is problematic even this year, but she says has been working to garner the support of the president of the senate for the special-ed programs before the year is over.

“I don’t believe a voucher bill can pass. The legislature even took away money slated for pilot programs, and it wasn’t a huge amount. If there was a voucher system, it would be a voucher for all private schools,” she said, and it would “be used mostly in urban areas.”

She, like others, including Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, who both ran for and lost the late Frank Lautenberg’s senate seat, do not approve of vouchers because they undermine public schools and drain their resources. But all is not bleak. “We did put some money into technical aid for sectarian schools. Those funds had been cut by 50 percent, and we’ve brought that funding back to where it was four years ago,” she said, admitting that there was much to be done with little funding available.

Another issue discussed with the senator was the possibility of creating a law that could protect agunot, chained women, from the recalcitrant husbands who refuse to give them gets. Weinberg is taking a close look at the law in New York colloquially known as “The Silver Get Law,” to see if it can be passed through the NJ legislature without raising the issue of separation of church and state, as well as the halakhic issues of forced gets. The law in New York is non-gender or religion specific, stating only that any spouse who places an obstacle in an ex-spouse’s path to remarriage will get neither community property or custody of the children.

When asked if she believed that the Jewish community in Bergen County needed guns to protect themselves from antisemites and terrorists, Weinberg responded, “I can’t account for those for those feel threatened… In our society that’s what we have law enforcement for. We have a local county sheriff’s office responsible for keeping us all safe. One could feel threatened by blogs that are posted by passionate gun lovers, but if someone wants to buy a gun legally in this state and goes through the licensing process—with no instant background checks, which we are trying to write it into the law—they can. That instant background check bill has been sitting on Governor Chrisitie’s desk for some time.

“I do not believe that people in Bergen County needs guns to protect themselves, but I can’t climb into people’s minds, hearts and souls. I read plenty of things about myself on the Internet and gun lovers say pretty nasty things about me, and they do threaten me. But if you are threatened in your home, you can defend yourself. I don’t think that what happened in Florida would happen in New Jersey [the Trayvon Martin “stand your ground case”], but I believe that there should be instant background checks and training and licensing before a gun is bought; that guns should be kept out of the hands of people on the terror watch list and people with a record of domestic violence.

“What I don’t understand is why people are so passionately against gun regulation. Even beauty salons are registered. If you drive a car, it has to be registered and you have to be trained to use it before you get a license. Owning a gun may be a constitutional right, but they need to be registered and regulated, because there needs to be a rational way of keeping them out of the hands of people who should not have them.”

State Senator Weinberg also serves on the N.J. Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee (as Vice-Chair) and on the State Government Committee (also as Vice-Chair). She is a former member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is an avid supporter of veteran’s rights and benefits.

By Jeanette Friedman

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