Cuomo says NYC-only pre-kindergarten expansion is nonstarter

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to raise a city income tax on the wealthy to pay for expansion of pre-kindergarten in New York City won’t fly in Albany.

“Look, I am New York City born and raised,” Cuomo said Thursday. “Every child in New York City is precious and we want the best for every child in New York City.”

But “every child in Buffalo is precious,” Cuomo said in defending his statewide plan to expand pre-kindergarten with state funds, but no new tax. “Any policy that would divide the state, I will oppose. Any policy that would seek to differentiate treatment of children … I would oppose.”

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 He said providing a benefit to part of the state alone is not the state’s “ethic.”

De Blasio has argued that he simply wants to do what’s best for the city, which is in desperate need of pre-kindergarten beginning this fall. But he needs Albany’s approval to raise the city income tax on city residents who are top earners.

Cuomo who is seeking re-election says New York must change its high-tax reputation if it is to prosper. He said it is the responsibility of the entire state to help pay for pre-kindergarten in areas that can't afford to pay for it alone.

 “The state Legislature represents the entire state, not just New York City, so you are not going to pass a piece of legislation that says, ‘My children go first.’” Cuomo told reporters. “We want every child to have the same opportunity.”

Senate Republicans who share control of the chamber also oppose an increase in the city income tax.

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