WASHINGTON Jan 23 New York City Mayor Bill de
Blasio is sticking with his proposal to expand public
pre-kindergarten education by raising taxes on the wealthy,
saying on Thursday his plan should not be subject to annual
state budget decisions.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had offered to
give the city $1.5 billion for the full-day pre-school classes
proposed by de Blasio in his inauguration address. After the
mayor rebuffed the offer, Cuomo told the New York Times the
state was willing to fully cover the costs of the $2.6 billion,
"We need reliable funding. We need a substantial amount of
funding," de Blasio, also a Democrat, told reporters at a U.S.
Conference of Mayors meeting about why he prefers backing the
program by increasing taxes on the city's highest earners.
"We can't do that plan properly if we don't have that money
locked in. I want revenue that people of New York City provide
and control," he said.
Momentum is growing across the country to provide universal
public pre-kindergarten, with city and federal leaders in
agreement that early education paves the way for academic and
professional success. Cuomo would like to see the entire state
provide universal pre-kindergarten.
Still, many U.S. areas are scrambling to provide for
existing public school programs, as the primary source of
education funding - property taxes - remains low. Many states
cut education as they try to balance their budgets following the
2007-09 economic recession, while the federal government has yet
to renew the funding bill known as No Child Left Behind, which
expired in 2007.