Bill de Blasio meets with Democratic assembly members to push universal pre-K tax plan
Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio said his universal prekindergarten plan was well-received during a meeting with Democratic State Assembly members Monday.
“It was very warmly received by the assembly members,” de Blasio said after the lunch meeting. “We got a very clear vote of confidence from the assembly members in the room, a lot of energy, a lot of willingness to help us make this a reality.”
The plan involves raising income taxes on city residents earning more than $500,000 annually, from 3.86 percent to 4.41 percent. The tax increase would be used to fund universal prekindergarten and after-school programs for middle school students.
The proposal was a major selling point during de Blasio’s campaign. He has said educating the workforce is the best method for improving the economy.
Raising income taxes requires approval from the State Legislature, which critics have said would be difficult with a Republican-controlled Senate.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who attended the meeting, and Democratic leader Sen. Jeff Klein support the measure.
In his pitch to skeptics, de Blasio pointed to a Quinnipiac poll last week showing support for the plan.
“The public of this city and this state understand that we are falling behind educationally, that a lot of our children are not given the education they need to succeed,” he said.
De Blasio said he plans on meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos about the proposal.
Skelos’ office did not comment on de Blasio’s meeting Monday, but the Nassau County senator has supported universal prekindergarten in the past. Still, most Senate and Assembly Republicans support cutting taxes, not raising them.
But that hasn’t deterred de Blasio, who said he hoped concept could go national.
“Education is more important to the future of our economy in general and to each household economy than it’s ever been in the history of humanity, literally,” he said.
De Blasio also said some appointments would be made later in the week, along with the family’s decision whether they will ultimately live in Gracie Mansion or continue to reside in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
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