New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to give New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 'whatever he needs' to cover the cost of extending pre-kindergarten classes throughout the city.
According to the New York Times, the governor offered "a blank check"
on Wednesday from state funds to pay for the pre-K schooling as part of his statewide program to boost education. But de Blasio fears the funding would be subject to the yearly budget whims of politicians in Albany and plans to push ahead with his campaign promise to pay for pre-K expansion through a small tax on the city's most wealthy.
"We continue to believe that the fairest way to secure a dedicated, full five years of funding — that is not subject to the whims of Albany politics — is a modest tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers," de Blasio spokeswoman Marti Adams said in a statement Wednesday.
De Blasio on Tuesday had turned down an initial offer from Cuomo of $1.5 billion over five years because city officials estimated the cost would likely be higher and, according to the New York Daily News, because he wanted to deliver on his campaign promise to raise taxes
on the rich to help pay for education.
Cuomo, who has been moving to cut taxes statewide, came back with his counter offer Wednesday, promising de Blasio "whatever he needs" to provide all-day pre-K classes.
"As fast as he can phase it in, we'll fund it," Cuomo said in an interview with editors and reporters at the Times. The Democratic governor stressed that he wants the state to pay for the all-day classes instead of requiring cities and local school districts to raise their own money.
"I don’t want this just for New York City," he said. "I don’t want just rich people, or rich cities, to be able to do it.”
Cuomo suggested that de Blasio's position on expanding pre-K classes may be politically motivated, and added that he does not understand why the new mayor, a fellow Democrat, wants to raise taxes for the program if he doesn't have to.
"We're very good at writing checks," Cuomo said of the state's commitment to cover the cost of expanding pre-K classes statewide. He also noted that he does not expect the state legislature to approve de Blasio's planned tax increase.
"Why do you need a tax for a service we're going to fully fund?" he asked during the Times interview.
"He’s saying part of what he ran on is income inequality, and part of the answer to income inequality is taxing rich people," Cuomo continued, referring to de Blasio's campaign promise. "That’s a political position — I understand that. I’m saying something else, which is when it comes to pre-K, we will pay for pre-K."
But Cuomo acknowledged that regardless of whether the states ends up paying for the city's pre-K program, de Blasio will more than likely continue his push to raise taxes on the wealthy.
"If it’s not pre-K, it’ll be something else," Cuomo said.
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