Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein pushed back Monday against his Republican cohort’s refusal to consider New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to tax the wealthy to fund pre-kindergarten, suggesting he will hold out for the plan to be included in the state budget.
In a statement, Klein said he will not approve a budget that “fails to realize the vision” of de Blasio’s pre-K plan, which would expand universal, full-day pre-kindergarten throughout New York City. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal includes $1.5 billion over five years to expand pre-K statewide, but uses existing state revenue and doesn’t levy a separate tax.
“I will not approve a budget that fails to realize the vision Mayor de Blasio and I share of providing high-quality, universal pre-k to the 50,000 four year olds who need it,” Klein said. “Mayor de Blasio’s plan is the only one that provides New York City with the funding it needs to achieve that goal.”
Klein specifically pushed back against the Senate GOP, which shares control of the chamber with his four-member Independent Democratic Conference. In a radio interview Monday, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said he won’t allow a vote on the de Blasio tax plan to come to the Senate floor.
Both Klein and Skelos have to agree on a bill for it to be put to a vote in the chamber.
“Senate Republicans comprise a minority in this chamber—they want more support for business tax cuts and we want more support for our kids,” Klein said. “Only by working together can we achieve a balance that works for everyone.”
In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said she hopes Klein and Skelos “would allow a vote on this proposal.”
“It is unfortunate that a minority of Senators are allowed to block an issue of such importance to the largest city in New York State,” she said.
(AP file photo)