With the 2011 budget planning under way, Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni is demanding that the funding for yeshivas, kollelim and chareidi educational institutions be included in the basic budget and that it be removed from the coalition agreements. This issue was raised in a preliminary budget preparation meeting held by the Finance Ministry chairman with Udi Nissan, the Finance Ministry official in charge of budgeting.
During the meeting Gafni insisted this funding appear in the basic budget rather than as supplemental funding allocated during the course of the year or based on coalition agreements. This would spare educational institutions from having to wade through the process of supplements, transfers and tense discussions each and every month, unlike mainstream education systems, which receive their funding as part of the basic budget.
This demand was issued despite the fact that last year there were no delays imposed on budget funding for the yeshivas, which was generally transferred on time, yet every month UTJ representatives had to take part in meetings and worry about the possibility of postponements, which placed a further strain on educational institutions already coping with funding difficulties.
According to Rabbi Gafni's demand, the issue of funding for chareidi educational institutions — including yeshivas, kollelim, educational institutions, dormitories, seminaries and talmudei Torah — should be removed from the coalition agreements and included in the basic budget. This demand was first raised at the founding of Degel HaTorah, more than 20 years ago.
"I demand that funding for the yeshivas and Torah-based educational institutions be no different from higher learning institutions and other education systems, where the funding is in the basic budget and the discussions regarding them are very tangential," Rabbi Gafni told Yated Ne'eman.
"At chareidi educational institutions discussions regarding the funding of the institutions are central issues because they do not appear in the basic budget. Two years ago, when the yeshiva budget was cut, it vanished because it did not exist at all in the basic budget, and everything had to be discussed from scratch. That's what I'm trying to prevent."