Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Universal Pre-k: The How Is Important

Cuomo and de Blasio's Political Chess Match Has Begun
Objectively, BdB's is the better plan.  I would love to see it spread beyond NYC, but it's vital to get the implementation and the funding right first.  The tax component is a necessary piece of the puzzle.  I hope Gov Cuomo quickly realizes that running on a GOP-lite tax cut platform is a losing proposition in this environment.
On Sunday night Capital New York ran a highly-detailed story declaring that Cuomo would, in this Wednesday's state of the state speech, attempt to co-opt one of de Blasio's signature issues by proposing statewide universal pre-kindergarten—and that Cuomo would pay for the program out of the state budget. That might have forced de Blasio to make an uncomfortable choice: Take the governor's half-loaf of expanded educational programs or keep insisting on them being funded by a tax increase for the wealthiest city residents and maybe lose in the state legislature. The story sure looked like a Cuomo trial balloon, and on Monday morning de Blasio smacked it down. The mayor was cool and cordial at an East Harlem press conference, repeating his belief that the governor remains "a friend and ally." But de Blasio, surrounded by union leaders who whose help Cuomo will want to run up a big re-election win in November, was emphatic: He believes the tax increase is the only way to guarantee a reliable, dedicated stream of revenue not subject to annual budget horsetrading. "We will pass this tax," de Blasio said. "I will repeat and repeat and repeat this until it's done." Minutes later in Albany, at his own press conference, Cuomo shrugged off the whole notion: No, he wouldn't be proposing a state universal pre-K program this week, though he continues to agree with the goal. How to make it happen is "a bigger conversation," for another day. Oh.

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