The New York State Assembly has authorized New York City to raise its income taxes in order to expand the universal pre-kindergarten program which has been enthusiastically supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio. This budget resolution includes an "acknowledgment of home rule" that would let the mayor and New York City Council raise taxes "if they choose," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Mayor de Blasio did the rounds on Sunday to churches in the city, while his wife , Chirlane McCray, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina did the same. They were asking their constituents to lobby their representatives in Albany for this pre-K plan and for middle school after school programs. both of which will require increasing taxes for wealthy NYC tax payers.
Edgar Sandoval and Erin Durkin of the New York Daily News reported that the mayor and his associates visited 18 churches explaining to the congregations that the pre-kindergarten programs are essential for New York City's young students.
At First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said the early start that pre-K provides is crucial for kids' education. Many of our kids don't get involved in books and reading until they are much too old, Farina said.
Last week the mayor met with Rev. Al Sharpton and Cardinal Dolan on the issue. De Blasio used some of this meeting time to explain and defend his decision to allow 36 of 45 charter school to establish co-locations with public school venues. The mayor is being sued by a public advocate who takes issue with this sharing of space in light of the fact that it takes away space that needs to be allocated to students with special needs.
The mayor has also been challenged by the head of Success Academies, Eva Moskowitz, who had been granted co-location rights for her three charter schools by former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Michael P. Hogan of Long Island Newsday believes that de Blasio's plan is worth supporting. He states that over half of NYC's 4-year olds have access to pre-kindergarten and that pre-K is essential, especially for children with high needs. Hogan reports that Governor Cuomo was against the legislation that would allow the mayor to tax NYC citizens. The Governor's resistance was based on the inequality for other cities and towns whose taxpayers earned less and therefor paid less in taxes.
Hogan insists that the NYC plan will actually help the whole state. It is his opinion that the governor simply does not have access to the kind of money it will take to establish a statewide preschool program. Mr. Hogan conjectures that since New York City will essentially be paying for their own pre-K, the rest of the state will be saving the money that the rich guys in NYC are paying.