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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was encouraged Wednesday in Albany in his push to raise the city income tax to pay for expansion of prekindergarten.
De Blasio seeks Albany’s authorization to raise the income tax on city residents making more than $500,000 a year. He traveled to Albany to take in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State speech, slated for 1:30 p.m.
“It is a moment of urgency,” de Blasio told the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, which shares control of the chamber with Republicans. “This is exactly the moment we have to right the wrong.”
Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, said he will push to move a bill through Republican opposition in the Senate.
“It’s something we should have done a long time ago,” Klein said, with de Blasio at his side.
Cuomo, however, is proposing tax cuts and wants to avoid taxing to pay for prekindergarten. The Cuomo said he hopes to find another way to expand prekindergarten statewide. The Democrat has said he wants to change New York’s image as a high-tax state.
But de Blasio wants the tax which would be a reliable, long-term source of funding.
De Blasio said he’s met with Cuomo on the issue recently, but didn’t describe those talks.
“I have a long and very respectful relationship with the governor,” de Blasio said, revealing almost nothing about the most watched political relationship in New York.
By comparison, Klein and Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), another member of the Independent Democratic Conference, ticked off campaigns on which they worked with de Blasio in political and personal relationships of 15 to 20 years.
Klein would have to get the measure to the floor first, and that would require that Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) allow it. Those are the rules in the bipartisan coalition.
“To raise taxes just to raise taxes isn’t the right way,” Skelos said in an interview before the State of the State address. “If we can find a way to fund it statewide, that is the approach to take.”
Skelos said he wants to hear Cuomo’s proposal in detail.
Skelos, however, didn’t rule out allowing a “home rule” bill. That’s when the Legislature allows a municipality to take action that only impacts that municipality. Several have been granted to previous New York City mayors.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) backs de Blasio’s request.
“We should give the mayor what he wants,” said Silver after meeting behind closed doors with the new mayor.