By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Shortly after his election to the state senate, Democrat Simcha Felder announced that he would caucus with Republicans in Albany, a move that was widely seen as jeopardizing the Democrats’ chances at becoming the majority party in the senate.
Felder (D-Midwood-Kensington) is moving up fast in Albany. He has been appointed by Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos http://www.nysenate.gov/senator/dean-g-skelos to serve as chairman of an important new subcommittee dealing with education.
As chairman of the Sub-Committee on New York City Education, Felder, a former deputy city comptroller, will review all bills pertaining to New York City schools. Felder, who said he has made education a key focus of his legislative agenda, was also appointed to chair the senate’s Children and Families Committee.
“I am gratified that Senator Skelos has appointed me to chair this sub-committee,” Felder said. “All New York City schools and children are facing unique educational challenges which demand and deserve creative and innovative solutions. I am confident that together with my senate colleagues, we will identify and implement positive changes for over one million students who are counting on us.”
Felder said he has planned a bold agenda for the sub-committee, including working on easing the tuition crisis and transportation concerns for parochial and private school families, improving the graduation rate of public school students, and addressing issues of safety and mental health in city schools.
As chairman of the Children and Families Committee, Felder said he plans to push legislation relating to affordable day care and youth programs.
“I am committed to ensuring that our city’s children and families have a strong foundation. I believe it is the responsibility of government to strengthen families which are struggling or require intervention,” he said.
Felder is also serving as a member on the Aging, Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, Health and Mental Health committees.
Felder, an Orthodox Jew, ran as a Democrat for the seat in the state senate’s 17th District, a redrawn district that includes communities with large Orthodox Jewish populations such as Midwood and Kensington. He defeated Republican David Storobin, who had won the seat in a special election only eight months earlier.
Felder announced a few days after his big election that instead of caucusing with his fellow Democrats, he would caucus with the GOP. The New York Times reported http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/nyregion/newly-elected-state-senator-simcha-felder-defects-to-gop.html?_r=0 that the defection cost Democrats dearly.
Prior to running for state senate, Felder served as deputy city comptroller for budget and accounting. Before that, Felder was a city councilman serving a district that covered Borough Park and included parts of Bensonhurst.