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20 Teves 5760 - December 29, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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UTJ Makes Impressive Achievements in the Budget

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

UTJ's representatives in the Knesset have made important gains for the entire religious community during deliberations over the budget for the year 2000. As usual in the parliamentary maneuvers leading up to final approval of the State budget, all parties work to advance the issues that they are interested in. After all, this is what their voters sent them to the Knesset for.

Four-and-a-half months ago, UTJ's representatives to the Knesset forwarded a detailed document to the Finance Minister delineating all of the UTJ's vital needs for the new fiscal year. This document covered all of topics included in former budgets.

Many of the clauses serve not only UTJ constituents, but also constituents of other religious and chareidi parties, such as Shas and Mafdal. UTJ has traditionally assumed responsibility for those issues.

UTJ's Knesset representatives met four times last week with the Finance Minister and his aides. These meetings were attended by Knesset members Rabbi Meir Porush, Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, Rabbi Moshe Gafni, and Rabbi Shmuel Halpert, and their advisors, Rabbi Yehoshua Pollack, and Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman, as well as by the secretary of the party, Rabbi Amitai Shulman.

It should be noted that many of these items are normal and accepted government support for things like basic education that are generally included in the budget for most of the country without the need for one party or another having to "bargain" for them. In the case of the chareidi community, basic funding must be specially won, and often the community is then criticized for its "excessive demands" when the amounts are added up. The following were agreed:

a) Yeshivos, kollelim and yeshivas ketanos: the recommendations the Blumberg-Gavish Committees of two years ago, which found a severe erosion in the budgets from the Education Ministry, be implemented, and applied to the students in these institutions.

b) Chinuch Atzmai: transportation for students and extra hour study hours be approved.

c) Matan: this nonprofit organization which deals with the special needs of new immigrants and children from poverty stricken homes and children in residential facilities be subsidized. This organization, the UTJ representatives stressed, is in dire financial straits.

d) High Schools for Girls: the budgets will be increased according to the real growth in the number of students.

e) Cultural organizations: subsidies be granted to organizations which conduct shiurim and spread Torah throughout the country.

e) Dormitories: that budgets, which come form the Labor and Welfare ministries, be provided for students in institutions with residential facilities, mainly yeshivos ketanos.

f)Rental for Young Couples: the Housing Ministry will continue to subsidize rentals of young couples for the first three years after their marriage.

g) Elad Mazor: the grants in Elad Mazor will be extended for four months to May 2000.

h) Classrooms for the chareidi sectors: additional subsidies for the increasing of the number of classrooms for the entire chareidi sector be given. The number of chareidi school classrooms is way below Ministry of Education regulations, but there was no capital budget.

i) Shemitta: that a budget for shemitta observant farmers be instated.

j) Housing Grants: The Finance Minister promised UTJ that as long as the government does not changed the national preference regions which provide assistance and development grants for housing, the mortgage banks will continue to grant the subsidies.

The document forwarded four-and-a-half months ago to the Treasury included additional topics which UTJ thought should be discussed, but due to the cuts in the State's budget, they focused only on the abovementioned topics.

News of the achievements of the UTJ representatives in the Knesset were warmly received in the Torah community.

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