State Budget talks appeared to hit a major snag Friday morning over the issue of universal prekindergarten.
Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos stormed out of a four-way leaders meeting in Gov. Cuomo’s office just after 10 a.m. complaining to reporters that “certain members in the room that represent another branch” were too focused on New York City and appeasing Mayor de Blasio.
Skelos mentioned education aid and tax cuts as issues being discussed but when asked about funding for pre-k, he stressed it’s “always been a problem.”
“As far as I am concerned, we have a problem right now,” Skelos said. “Hopefully, we can work it out, but we’ll see.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) emerged from Cuomo’s office about a half hour after Skelos and indicated pre-k funding was still an issue in the budget talks but offered few specifics as to what led Skelos to bolt from the meeting.
“For 20 years, I’ve been pushing pre-K statewide,” Skelos said. “I think it’s the best way to prepare our children for the future, to make New York businesses strong in the 21st century, in a global economy. And the fact that I want to nail down a statewide pre-K program, (Skelos) has problems with.”
Silver rejected the accusation he is too focused on New York City and argued he represents a statewide conference and is pushing for a statewide pre-K program.
“There is no issue with the level of funding I want to allocate,” Silver said. “I think the senator, for some reason, was rather agitated today and left their quickly.”
Silver also slammed the Senate’s budget resolutions as “fiction” that make it hard to discern what, exactly, the Senate is looking to achieve.
“That’s the problem,” Silver said. “I am not sure what the Senate proposed. It’s hard to read that resolution, read the fiction. I don’t read fiction. I read biographies, I read history. I never read fiction.”
IDC head Jeff Klein left the meeting after Skelos but well before Silver and, according to the Glenn Bain piece at Daily Politics, downplayed the Skelos incident.
What to make of this?
Silver and Cuomo in budget talks long after Skelos left and for quite a while after Klein left.
Judging from this story, Silver seems to have the upper hand on the pre-K funding, at least for now.
I wonder if he has given anything up to gain the upper hand on that?
Silver and Cuomo remained in negotiations on their own for awhile after the other two left.
That could be a very dangerous time if you're looking for Silver to hold the line on charter co-locations, charter funding and other issues to related to Eva and Company.
Here's hoping he holds the line.
But the "Four Men In A Room Bashing Out The Budget" scenario can certainly result in something along the lines of "De Blasio gets his pre-K funding but it's tied to losing control over charter co-location policies and the state giving extra funding to charter school operators so they can spend millions more on ads."
As always, hope I'm wrong by taking the cynical view of this.
But in politics, you rarely going broke doubling down on the cynical view.