Time Running Out, de Blasio Pushes for Agenda in Albany

June 8, 2015 Updated: June 8, 2015

NEW YORK—With time running out on the state legislative session, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio again made a push for his stalled agenda in Albany, declaring that the nation’s largest city was on the precipice of a “disaster” due to lawmakers’ inaction.

The mayor, increasingly frustrated with a legislative session that has yielded few victories, upbraided the state Legislature’s sluggishness to act on a number of key items before the end of the legislative session on June 17. He called, once again, for renewing mayoral control of the city’s public school system, reforming a tax break for developers known as 421-a, and for toughening the state’s rent regulations.

“We need a clear strengthening of rent regulation, or we’re going to see tens of thousands of New Yorkers displaced,” said de Blasio on Monday. “There are some in Albany talking about (letting) rent regulation lapse, which would be a disaster for this city.”

That’s an extraordinarily dangerous dynamic.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio

“That’s an extraordinarily dangerous dynamic,” the mayor added.

The mayor also signaled opposition to linking those stronger rent regulations to new education tax credits, a compromise reportedly being discussed in Albany. Those tax credits would be for private and religious schools and have received vocal support from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The strategy to link legislative items in the budget is common practice in Albany, especially as a way to jumpstart stalled end-of-session budget negotiations.

De Blasio also doubled down on a call he first made over the weekend to end 421-a if it won’t be reformed. De Blasio wants to change the tax break so it would require more affordable housing, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has criticized the mayor’s plan and called for it to be extended in its current form.

“I think it has to either be reformed and kept, or done away with,” the mayor said. “So I said either mend it or end it.”

De Blasio has repeatedly locked horns with Cuomo, a longtime pseudo-friend who has thwarted many of the mayor’s plans. De Blasio spent months quietly taking the governor’s meddling—at least in public—but has pushed back more vocally in recent weeks.

The mayor also took pains to connect one of his administration’s biggest accomplishments—a massive expansion of free universal pre-K—to mayoral control of the schools, suggesting that such a sweeping overhaul could not have happened without it. The state Assembly and Cuomo have supported a three-year expansion, while the state Senate wants to authorize just one year.

On Monday, de Blasio announced that parents of 4-year-olds would learn later this week to which pre-K program their child has been matched. More than 69,000 students will receive an offer for the free program, either in city public schools or community-based organizations.

Officials said 70 percent of applicants were matched with their first-choice school, while 82 percent landed one of their top three.