De Blasio goes forth with education agenda

Stephon Johnson | 3/6/2014, 9:24 a.m.
Last week, the mayor axed plans by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to further expand Success Academy schools into public school ...
Bill de Blasio Photo by Bill Moore

But the mayor has run into some walls with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor remains hesitant to let de Blasio raise city taxes on those making $500,000 or more and claims that he can implement pre-K across the state without raising taxes. In an interview with NYStateofPolitics.com, state Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. John DeFrancisco said that Cuomo’s plan to fund pre-K without raising taxes isn’t long-term.

“Well, there’s enough money in the budget to get it started, and I think that’s all the governor is claiming in the dollars for the pre-K, and it’s obviously going to have to be a yearly discussion concerning how many more pre-K programs there are,” said DeFrancisco. “It’ll be up to future legislative bodies whether or not there’s going to be enough funding to keep it going and accelerate it.”

Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education agreed.

“We don’t always see eye to eye with Sen. DeFrancisco, but in this case, his honesty refreshingly cuts through the spin and malarkey about pre-K funding,” said Easton in a statement. “As Sen. DeFrancisco has made abundantly clear, this is a one-year budget proposal; it contains $100 million for pre-K, and there is no blank check for pre-K. No wonder Mayor de Blasio is pushing for a separate, dedicated tax.”

De Blasio is asking for a five-year increase in New York City income taxes on citizens who make $500,000 or more. His prescribed hike of 4.41 percent from 3.876 percent would, according to the mayor, yield close to $530 million in new revenue each year.

Former Mayors David Dinkins, Rudolph Giuliani and Bloomberg have all won approval from Albany to raise local taxes for “priority issues” in the past. De Blasio hopes to become the fourth mayor to do so.