Gov. Cuomo, fearing a clash with a Mayor Bill de Blasio over the poll-leading Democrat’s tax-the-rich plan to fund a universal pre-K program, has directed his staff to explore “alternative options’’ to let the city raise the money without an income-tax hike, The Post has learned.
“The last thing the governor wants is a clash with a Mayor de Blasio,’’ a Cuomo administration source said.
“He has his staff looking at the options. There are things that the state could do other than permitting the city to raise the income tax that could make this [de Blasio’s campaign pledge] possible,’’ the source said.
De Blasio has vowed to fund his full-time universal pre-kindergarten plan with a tax boost of more than $500 million annually on those making $500,000 or more a year.
At the same time, Cuomo has pledged to cut taxes next year — when he’ll be seeking re-election.
Administration sources said the seemingly opposite tacks could be harmonized.
“The governor wants tax cuts for next year, which obviously suggests that there’s going to be some form of budget surplus in the current fiscal year, and if there’s a surplus, that means there could be money for spending increases, such as money for a universal pre-K program,’’ said a source.
Another possibility for Cuomo to help fund deBlasio’s campaign promise: state authorization to increase several smaller city taxes that are largely paid for by the well-to-do.
Sources said the governor is determined to prevent de Blasio from imposing a new tax on the rich, because Cuomo has already imposed his own “millionaire’s tax’’ after vowing not to do so.
Cuomo also intends to avoid a head-on clash with de Blasio and the “progressive,’’ or left-of-center, wing of the Democratic Party that de Blasio represents, since they could be crucial if the governor seeks to run for president in 2016.
More on this later, but it's a good sign that Cuomo administration officials are signaling off the record that they don't want a head-on clash with "the left-of-center" wing of the Democratic party prior to 2016.
That means we just might be able to challenge Cuomo on his education policies too.