NEW YORK—In a long unseen show of unity between City Council and the mayor’s administration, city officials locked shields Tuesday to support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal prekindergarten plan.
The council proposed a resolution in support of the mayor’s plan, which would increase the income tax for New Yorkers who earn more than $500,000 a year to fund universal pre-K and afterschool programs for middle schools.
The plan hit a wall in Albany with Gov. Cuomo proposing his own pre-K plan and state Senate Co-leader Dean Skelos saying he wouldn’t allow a vote on the issue. The tax increase has to be approved by the state Legislature.
The city’s top elected officials and mayoral appointees filled a joint committee meeting at City Hall, including Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.
At a rally before the meeting, Mark-Viverito referred to Skelos as “this guy from Long Island” who shouldn’t dictate what’s historically been considered a municipal matter.
The resolution has no direct consequences, but Mark-Viverito hopes support from the council will sway legislators in Albany.
Work in Progress
At the joint committee meeting Tuesday, Schools Chancellor Fariña detailed a plan to create 73,250 full-day pre-k seats by September 2015.
Fariña said that she will meet with deans of the universities in the city, which provide certification in early childhood education. She plans to convince them to give such courses priority, since the city would need 2,000 more teachers for universal pre-K, double of what it currently hires.