Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to stress that he will seek a statewide program for universal pre-kindergarten, spurning calls by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to let the city raise taxes on the rich to fund the program in the city.
“I will oppose any policy that would seek to differentiate treatment for children, especially on such a vital service as pre-k,” Cuomo said this morning when asked by reporters during a conference call on the winter storm. “That’s not the way this state operates. This is one state.”
Cuomo and Senate Republicans won’t back de Blasio’s plan. If they don’t, de Blasio’s plan won’t fly in Albany.
Cuomo is proposing to fund pre-k statewide with $1.5 billion in state aid over five years. It won’t be enough to fund it in every school, but Cuomo said more money would be available when the schools are ready to implement it.
“I want it for all children,” Cuomo continued. “Also, the state Legislature represents the entire state, not just New York City. So you’re not going to pass a piece of legislation, saying, ‘My children should go first.’ That’s not the way we govern; that’s not the way we operate, and it’s not going to be successful.”
De Blasio said his focus is New York City.
“The governor by obligation has to think about the whole state, and he’s right that there are some very troubled areas of the state that need special support,” de Blasio said after his budget address yesterday. “I’m right to say that our kids in New York City – as you saw in that previous slide – are not ready for their futures on an alarming scale.”
Upstate mayors have been backing Cuomo in press releases today, including in Yonkers, Hornell, Niagara Falls, Newburgh and Middletown.
“New York City’s millionaire tax may work there where more than half of the state’s millionaires live, but if implemented statewide half of the state’s children would be left out in the cold,” Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said in a statement.
Updated: Inexplicably, statements keep coming in in support of Cuomo’s position. This one is from three GOP upstate senators: John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse; John Flanagan of Long Island; and Joseph Robach of Greece, Monroe County. They said they are “deeply offended” that de Blasio thinks the city’s kids are more important than other across the state.
“We have a responsibility to provide every student in this state with the same opportunity to learn and to succeed, not just the students in New York City,” the senators said.