Mayor de Blasio hails 'unprecedented’ agreement
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Adding impetus to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious push to fund full-day pre-K for every city youngster and after school programs for middle schoolers, the New York state senate’s majority committed on Thursday to fund the programs for five years.
“Under Conference Leaders Klein and Skelos, the state senate’s majority has put forward an unprecedented commitment to fund free, full-day pre-K for every child in New York City, and after-school programs for every middle schooler,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.
“Their powerful support for our children and families – combined with Speaker Silver and the state assembly’s passage of a resolution last night that includes a funding stream in the form of a tax on the city’s highest earners – represents a new consensus sweeping across this state,” he added.
Mayor de Blasio has said the city would need $540 million per year to open pre-K to all. Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposes de Blasio’s plan to tax high earners to maintain a dedicated funding stream for the programs.
The senate plan would not depend on a tax on the wealthy to fund pre-K. The exact funding level was not confirmed by press time, but published sources put it as close to de Blasio’s $540 million request.
Speaker Mark-Viverito and Education Committee Chair Dromm praised the commitment. “We applaud Speaker Shelly Silver, Senator Klein and Senator Skelos for their leadership in introducing a budget resolution to provide funding for Universal Pre-K and afterschool programs,” they said in a joint statement. “Early childhood education is a sound investment in the future of our City, and we are pleased the State Legislature shares our vision of making sure every child has access to the resources they need to succeed.”
Borough President Eric Adams also weighed in. "I give high marks to the State Senate’s majority conference leaders for pledging themselves to a verifiable plan that would fund full-day pre-kindergarten in New York City, as well as after-school for middle-schoolers, in their one-house budget resolution. The momentum must be maintained in the days ahead as Albany deliberates our state budget, but this is a giant bipartisan step forward for education in this city and this state.”