Agudath Israel of Florida is pleased to announce that Governor Scott signed a bill this week to expand the funding sources available to support the Gardiner Scholarship for special needs students and the Corporate Tax Scholarship program. This change has the potential to generate an additional $57.5 million. The Gardiner scholarship program helped over 10,000 students with special needs during the 2017-2018 school year, but due to the lack of funding, many more students were put on a waiting list. The bill also allows for excess funding to be used for the Corporate Tax Scholarship program to help low income students attend the private school of their choice.
Agudath Israel urges all eligible families who were previously denied funding or haven’t started the testing and application process to do so immediately. More information can be found here. Questions can also be directed to Rabbi Matz at mmatz@agudathisraelFL.org.
While Agudath Israel had a successful legislative session in Tallahassee, there were several disappointments including a bill to expand eligibility for the McKay Scholarships for special needs students which failed to pass and a bill to abolish Daylight Saving Time which passed swiftly with little chance for debate.
While the Florida Legislature postured that maintaining Daylight Saving Time throughout the year would help the tourism industry and lower the crime rate, others expressed concerns that the bill would negatively affect businesses. Similar to the effort to curb DST on the federal level (click here for Agudath Israel’s 2005 memo to Congress and here for an NBC story), Agudath Israel of Florida led the Orthodox Jewish community’s response to the state measure. Rabbi Moshe Matz, Agudath Israel of Florida’s executive director, pointed out that with an 8 am sunrise in the winter, students would be walking to school in the dark creating a safety concern. Furthermore, morning prayers would have to start an hour later, preventing many Orthodox men from praying at synagogue and conflicting with their work schedules.
Concerned community members have been calling Governor Scott to ask him not to sign the bill and asking Senator Rubio not to move forward on his bill to grant the necessary congressional authorization.
Please contact Governor Scott to express your concerns. You can call and leave a brief, respectful message at (850) 717-9337 M-F 8:00-5:00PM – or email by going to www.flgov.com and follow instructions. To contact Senator Rubio call 202-224-3041.