Cuomo: ‘Forget the numbers’ on pre-K budget battle

andrew cuomo minimum wage
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tossed out the budget book and promised to cover the cost of statewide universal prekindergarten according to need.
Credit: Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tossed out the budget book and promised to cover the cost of statewide universal prekindergarten according to need.

On WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” Monday, Cuomo said to “forget the numbers” of his alternative to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tax hike to pay for the expanded early education program.

“Forget the numbers. We will pay the need of pre-K because we want to do it,” Cuomo said, adding that the state will fund any program as quickly as the cities can roll out their respective plans.

Cuomo first unveiled his plan for statewide prekindergarten in late January, effectively pushing back on de Blasio’s proposal to increase taxes on New Yorkers making $500,000 or more to pay for a $530 million program over five years.

The governor’s original plan proposed $1.5 billion in state spending over five years. De Blasio has repeatedly committed to opening 29,000 seats by September.

“The numbers are flexible,” the governor said of the state’s budget for prekindergarten. “The commitment is not.”

De Blasio also decided to show some pliability of his own on the issue Monday morning.

“I’ve 100 percent said if we have a verifiable plan for five years and the dollar figures we need, we can accept that,” the mayor said on MSNBC.

“But I’ve also said that I don’t believe, given the vagaries of Albany … that we’re going to have anything that’s verifiable and consistent as the tax plan we’ve put forward,” the mayor added.

Cuomo pushed back on the notion that a tax would cement funding any more than a budgets passed by law.

“If we passed a tax this year for the city of New York, which is what the mayor asked for, we could undo it next year. The ‘vagaries’ would continue. There’s nothing that says if you pass a tax you can’t undo the tax.”

The governor likened the idea of undoing the state’s commitment to prekindergarten to taking away money for first grade.

“That’s what pre-K’s going to be,” Cuomo said. “Once you start funding a grade, it’s nearly impossible [to defund.]”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…


MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…


NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…


Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…


Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…


Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…


Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.


Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.


Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.


Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.


Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.


Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.


A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.


3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.


Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…


Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…