City Council asks Albany to prioritize de Blasio agenda

upk bus albany
Universal prekindergarten supporters join New York City Council members in a trip up to Albany on Tuesday morning.
Credit: @UPKNYC/Twitter

As buses full of council members and supporters made their way to the state capital in support of universal prekindergarten, the New York City Council released its top agenda items as state lawmakers prepared to draw up the new budget.

Few surprises were included in the list of 35 agenda items, mostly coinciding with priorities laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio throughout his campaign and in the first few months of his administration.

The city’s right to tax itself so as to pay for universal prekindergarten and after-school programming tops the list, as does de Blasio’s promise last month to increase the city’s minimum wage.

“I feel it is only appropriate that NYC should have the power to determine our own minimum wage and develop a sustainable funding stream for [universal pre-K] and after-school programing,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz in a statement.

The council also wants the state to allow the city to reinstate the commuter tax on those who work but don’t live in the five boroughs, and for it to throw out Madison Square Garden’s tax exemption.

Other issues the council wants the state to tackle are ones that Albany has been struggling with for years, and how much elected state officials, who are gearing up for primaries this summer, will be willing to give this year is unclear.

Last week, the Democrat-led Assembly passed a new version of state Dream Act to give financial aid to students whose parents are illegal aliens. It remains held up in a fractured Senate.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination and Women’s Equality acts remain top items of concern for the municipal body, even as they’ve so far stalled upstate.

There might be some disagreement on one issue, not between the council and state but between the council and the mayor. While the two sides of City Hall are otherwise in lockstep on their priorities, election reform stands be one issue of contention.

While the de Blasio administration has come out in support of reforming the city’s embattled Board of Elections, the council also wants to revive legislation to reform election runoffs, the most recent being the low-turnout public advocate runoff last fall that cost $13 million.

Two bills to institute instant-runoff voting — by which voters rank candidates in a primary — died before the new council convened on Jan. 1. Even so, de Blasio wasn’t sold on the idea even after longtime ally Letitia James took over his role as public advocate.

“What I think is problematic about it is that you have a very different discussion when it comes down to two candidates,” he told WYNC last November. “There’s something about IRV that doesn’t fully represent the choices that people need to make in real time.”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.


Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…


LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.


Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…


Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…


If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…


Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.


Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."


Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.


3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.


Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…


Giants vs. Cardinals: 3 things we learned

The Giants heard all week about how ragged their new offense has looked, but even when they finally answered the bell they still can’t find a way to win.


World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.


The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…


Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.


Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…