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ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday argued that prekindergarten must be extended statewide — not just in New York City — because the wealthy in Manhattan, on Long Island and elsewhere must help fund the service for poorer areas.
Cuomo pivoted to the “equity” argument in his clash with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The new mayor is trying to get Albany’s approval to raise the city income tax on the wealthiest city residents to pay for expansion of prekindergarten in the five boroughs.
“I believe that’s a service that should be provided to all children everywhere in the state,” Cuomo said. “I want to make sure that richer communities and the poorer communities in this state are also in a place to afford that service.”
De Blasio has said Albany is standing in the way of New York City’s effort to take care of its own, while shouldering the cost through a city tax. Cuomo who is campaigning to freeze and cut taxes in New York is instead offering state funding for a statewide program he has long proposed.
Cuomo said allowing wealthy areas to pay only for their own prekindergarten is “repugnant to the whole equity argument.”
“So do I believe the wealth in New York City should be used just for New York City? No,” Cuomo said. “I don’t believe the wealth in Nassau should be used just for Nassau. That would place the poorer communities at a disadvantage. And I don’t want to do that.”
“Let’s do it right,” Cuomo told reporters. “Let’s let every child regardless of race, regardless of what part of the state you’re in, regardless of whether you are in a rich community or a poor community, [know] you’re all going to receive the same great quality program, and that’s a state program financed by the state.”