Mayor Bill de Blasio will travel to Albany Wednesday to attend Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State address and begin lobbying state legislators in earnest for their support of his universal pre-kindergarten plan.
De Blasio’s upstate agenda includes a handful of breakfasts with lawmakers, but he said that the primary focus of his trip is Cuomo’s speech.
“I want to be there to support Governor Cuomo and I want to be there out of the sense of being his colleague,” de Blasio said Tuesday, adding that Cuomo attended his inauguration one week ago and the two have known each other for more than two decades. “I expect that we’ll often gather together when either one of us is making a major initiative.”
Cuomo is a necessary ally in de Blasio’s fight — the centerpiece of his campaign and a central goal of his first months as mayor — to win state approval of an income tax hike on wealthy city residents to fund education programs. Cuomo has been noncommittal on how to fund de Blasio’s proposals for universal pre-kindergarden and after-school programs, even though he has repeated said he supports the end goal.
De Blasio said he will send time in the capital courting supporters today and in the near future. “We’re going to try and see if we can get some other meetings in quickly,” he said at an unrelated news conference at City Hall, “but I certainly intend to go back up to Albany in the coming weeks for more substantial meetings.”
The mayor’s plan has the backing of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who said yesterday that he expects de Blasio to send mayor to send a “home-rule message” asking for the state’s permission to raise taxes in the city.
“I think the mayor should have the right to do what he sees fit to do,” Silver told reporters outside his State Capitol office. “They’ll send a home-rule message, and I think by and large the members of my conference, especially from the City of New York, want to support him.”
Silver said he prefers de Blasio’s tax-the-rich proposal but wouldn’t rule out funding the education initiative with means beyond a tax increase.
De Blasio, Silver and other backers, including about one dozen union leaders, said a “dedicated” source of revenue, such as a tax, is needed to ensure the education programs aren’t cut during budget crunches.
With Yancey Roy