February 3, 2014
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher
New York, NY – De Blasio is continuing to push the governor and state legislature to approve his plan for raising city income taxes on those making more than $500,000 to fund a free, full-day universal pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds throughout the city. Last Monday January 27th he testified in Albany about Gov.
Cuomo’s proposed budget. During his testimony, de Blasio continued to advocate for his pre-kindergarten plan, which stands in contrast to Cuomo’s recent push to fund a statewide expansion of pre-K using state financing instead of new taxes.
Many state legislators are now supporting the de Blasio plan. The proposal is picking up steam with a broad base of parents, community leaders and advocates across the state. The acceptance of the plan is the number one priority of the New York City Council.
“There are some who whisper that our drive to tax the rich to fund pre-K and after-school is just political posturing – an effort to heap scorn on the wealthy to win an election,” de Blasio testified. “But the election in New York City is over, and we are here to work with our leaders in Albany to govern. This is about our commitment to one New York, where we all rise together. We don’t want to punish the wealthy for their success; we want to create more success stories.”
Obama is also supporting an expansion of early childhood and pre-K education. He mentioned these sentiments, most recently in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night January 28th. This is also a factor in the building of support for the Mayors plan.
“Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old,” Obama said. “As a parent, as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own. They know we can’t wait.”
Both de Blasio and Cuomo have said increasing access to pre-kindergarten is a priority. They both have cited research that reports that children who attend high-quality early childhood programs are less likely to be held back a grade or need special education. Also more likely to graduate from high school. Research also indicates that those starting education early, age 2 is even better than age 4, earn more as adults and will less likely have entanglements with the law.
“I was proud to hear President Obama express his support for states prioritizing early education, and I look forward to making New York the fourth state in the nation to offer quality full day pre-K for every child statewide,” Cuomo said in a statement following the State of the Union.
De Blasio estimated his plan would cost $340 million annually over the next five years. This would provide full-day universal pre-kindergarten to 53,604 children in September 2014 and all 73,250 children eligible during the 2015-16 school year.
Although many believe the cost of full day pre-k program in New York City would be much more, there is general agreement that it's needed.
There is no doubt that de Blasio's has created the wind needed to push his sail boat rapidly through a storm. The momentum for pre-K expansion in New York City and throughout the country, could be the edge needed to sail de Blasio's plan to a safe harbor.