Worth The Ask

November 20, 2013
BY Marc Shapiro
BJC outlines budgetary priorities

The Baltimore Jewish Council met with Gov. Martin O’Malley earlier this month to discuss budgetary and policy priorities.

“We left feeling very positive from that meeting,” said Cailey Locklair, the BJC’s director of government relations.

She discussed the group’s requests for FY2015 at a board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The BJC asked for $60,000 for the Sinai Family Violence Prevention program, which has never been funded but for which funding was requested in previous years. That program, as well as the Domestic Violence (DOVE) program at Northwest Hospital, works to educate medical staff on how to identify victims of domestic violence. The BJC asked for level funding (the same funding awarded last year) for DOVE at $150,000.

Level funding was requested for the Hillel Center for Social Justice, which was awarded half of a $2 million request in FY2014.

“The Hillel Center for Social Justice is a place where students of all faiths, cultures and ethnicities can come together for social justice dialogue [and] leadership development,” Locklair said.

The groups asked for the second half of operating funds for the Medical Home Extender Plan at Sinai Hospital ($250,000). This program creates additional primary-care services for the uninsured and underinsured and fits in with health-care reform, Locklair said.

The BJC asked for $75,000 to complete its request of $150,000 for the Elder Abuse Center, the first program of its kind in Maryland. National data shows that one in 10 people over the age of 60 are experiencing some kind of abuse, and Locklair said this problem is going to get worse over time.

“This population cannot be serviced by traditional domestic violence and sexual abuse programs,” she said.

A request of $450,000 was made for the Supportive Community Network, half of which goes to the Baltimore community and half of which goes to the Washington, D.C., Jewish community to maintain this grassroots program that helps seniors stay in their homes.

Level funding was requested for the Maryland/Israel Development Center of $275,000. The program fosters business relationships and encourages Israeli companies to establish American headquarters in Maryland.

The BJC also asked for level funding for the Maryland Education Credit, which allocated $1.5 million to textbooks and technology in non-public schools last year, making O’Malley the first governor to add funding for non-public schools since Parris Glendening, who governed from 1995 to 2003. A capital program of $3.5 million was also created for aging non-public schools. The BJC hopes for level funding in both programs, although Locklair said the Maryland House leadership may not be fully supportive.

The BJC also plans to pay close attention to storm-water management fees, which disproportionately impact nonprofits and faith-based institutions in some areas, Locklair said. The organization would like elected officials to examine disparities between Maryland jurisdictions.

The BJC is also expecting kosher wine to be an issue this upcoming session and plans to continue to meet with the alcohol lobby to try to work out a compromise.

“Whenever we meet with opponents directly one-on-one and explain to them … this is a very small minority that just wants access to a variety of kosher wines that they can’t get in the state currently, they just go, ‘Oh, oh,’” Locklair said.

Marc Shapiro is a JT staff reporter — mshapiro@jewishtimes.com

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