Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cuomo Already Looks To Cut De Blasio's Pre-K Money

One of the arguments Mayor de Blasio used for why he wanted to raise taxes on people making over $500,000 a year in NYC to fund his pre-K program is that he could on the money being there every year.

If the money for the pre-K program came from the state rather than the tax hike, the funds would be subject to the whims of the governor, the legislature and the budgeting process in Albany and could be cut (or eliminated) at any point in time.

Cuomo, seeking to undercut de Blasio's power and prestige, not to mention keep him from raising taxes in Cuomo's re-election year, engineered it so that de Blasio would be unable to raise taxes to fund the program but would get the money from the state.

Cuomo said this about the pre-K funding on January 21:

“All the educators will tell you this is the single most advantageous reform that a state can make, that the younger you get children into school, the more open and accessible their brain, the more they can take in earlier,” said Cuomo. “It’s a priority. We believe in children, we believe in pre-k, we believe in education. Let’s put our money where our mouth is and make it a reality.

“This budget includes a fully funded five-year plan to cover the additional costs of full-day pre-K across the state,” Cuomo said. “We currently estimate the cost at about $1.5 billion over the next five years.”

That was January 21.

Here's what we learned Friday:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed to reduce the amount of prekindergarten funding for New York City in the state Senate's version of the budget, calling a top senator to lobby for the cut, according to people familiar with the conversation.

Mr. Cuomo's call on Tuesday was to Senate Majority Co-leader Jeffrey D. Klein, a Bronx Democrat who played a lead role in crafting the Senate's budget priorities and a supporter of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plans to expand prekindergarten.

Mr. Cuomo, also a Democrat, argued that the Senate shouldn't set aside $540 million per year for pre-K and afterschool programs in the city, saying it was too much, the people familiar with the call said. Mr. de Blasio has said the city would require around $540 million.

In an interview Friday, Mr. Cuomo suggested that Mr. Klein wanted the $540 million in the Senate resolution to score political points. Mr. Klein leads a breakaway faction of Democrats who have helped Republicans maintain some control in the Senate, despite their dwindling numbers, and faces a potential primary challenge in the fall.

"Jeff Klein's political issues are his business at this point," Mr. Cuomo said. "Whether he has a primary and who challenges him and who supports him should be left to politics." 

In an email, Mr. Klein said: "$340 million for 50,000 four-year-olds or $340 million for Wall Street banks. Let's have the public decide." He was referring to the amount his budget specifically sets aside for pre-K.

Mr. Cuomo's call to Mr. Klein, over a budget resolution with no practical effect, demonstrates how the level of prekindergarten funding has become a delicate political issue in Albany. Until now, Mr. Cuomo was seen as having outboxed Mr. de Blasio by saying he would fund pre-K without a tax increase, while remaining vague about how much money he would set aside. Now two houses of the Legislature support the funding level Mr. de Blasio wants, and the Senate version eliminates tax breaks for renters and homeowners the governor wanted as he faces re-election.

Cuomo may have outboxed de Blasio over the pre-K/tax issue, but one of the ways de Blasio can hit Cuomo back is to hammer him when the state inevitably doesn't fully fund the program.

It's clear already that the program is not a priority for Cuomo, which is why he was trying to get Klein and the IDC to cut the funding for NYC in the Senate budget proposal.

If I'm de Blasio, I go at Cuomo over this and say "Hey, what gives? You said the money would be there from the state, so that's why I don't get the tax hike, but now you're already cutting the funding before the program even starts? What's this funding going to look like in Year Three Or Year Four?"

In the end, Cuomo doesn't care about pre-K or children, he simply wants to keep any tax increase from going through in his re-election year.

If the call to Klein and the undercutting of the de Blasio program before it is even starts isn't the proof of that, I don't know what is.


  1. We already knew Cuomo did not care about either pre-k, or kids when we saw him out front at the Moskowitz rally in Albany. What adult in his right mind would sanction missing a day of school for children to ride a long distance for the purpose of being used as political pawns? Where is evidence of Cuomo's concern for the vast majority of children in New York State who attend public schools, or their teachers?

    1. He cares only about disruption: