Mayor de Blasio angry at Albany for tabling pre-K - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Mayor de Blasio angry at Albany for tabling pre-K

Posted: Updated:

JONATHAN LEMIRE | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- A day after receiving a stinging rebuke from a powerful Albany lawmaker who threatened to block his prekindergarten tax hike plan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio angrily demanded a vote while coordinating a show of force to defend his signature proposal that now appears to be in substantial jeopardy.

De Blasio rallied with dozens of influential African-American clergy leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, in Brooklyn, while his close ally Melissa Mark-Viverito, the city council speaker, did the same with local elected officials and parents at City Hall, all urging lawmakers 150 miles to north to consider the plan.

Their demands came a day after Republican State Senate leader Dean Skelos said he would not bring de Blasio's proposal, a tax hike on the wealthy to fund universal prekindergarten, to a vote. The plan, which is the centerpiece of de Blasio's first months in office, can't be enacted without approval from the Legislature.

"Sen. Skelos in Albany refuses to bring this plan to a vote, denying us our rights in a democracy," de Blasio, a Democrat, said to the crowd at the Bedford-Stuyvesant church. "It's as simple as that."

"People of this city demanded something for our children and we're told we don't even get a vote in Albany, as if our children don't matter," continued de Blasio, who likened the city to a "colony that doesn't even get to decide its own future."

He and Sharpton then led the crowd of 200 at the campaign-style event in a chant of "We want a vote! We want a vote!" The mayor's wife, Chirlane McCray, who is African-American, also implored the clergy to rally their own congregations, saying that access to prekindergarten was "the defining civil rights issue of our day."

De Blasio repeatedly pointed to his margin of victory -- he captured 73 percent of the vote in November's general election -- as a mandate for his plan. He has spent enormous political capital on the proposal and has personally lobbied lawmakers, including Skelos, on the plan. But now it is in jeopardy of becoming the latest in a long line of New York City mayoral initiatives -- like Michael Bloomberg's 2008 idea to charge drivers who bring their cars into Manhattan -- to be cast aside in Albany.

"I am miffed because I had spoken with Senator Skelos several times and understood there would be ongoing discussions to see if we could work forward," de Blasio said. "This was quite a surprise to me that he would not allow a vote."

De Blasio, Sharpton and Mark-Viverito said they would lobby the four men who have the power to save the plan: Skelos, his co-Senate leader Democrat Jeff Klein, Assembly Speaker Shelley Silver and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Silver has called Skelos' position unacceptable. Cuomo has made clear that he has no interest in raising taxes and instead proposed paying for universal prekindergarten with money from the state budget. Klein had signaled support for de Blasio's plan but appeared to soften his stance Tuesday, saying "I'm not sure" when asked by reporters if the mayor's tax hike was the only reliable method to pay for the plan.

"I want to make sure that the mayor gets his fair hearing in Albany, make sure he gets to explain how he's going to implement this plan, how he's going to pay for it and how much money he needs," Klein said, refusing to commit further.

De Blasio may have also been dealt another blow in Albany in Tuesday. In his State of the City speech the day before, they mayor advocated a minimum wage higher than the $9 an hour rate Cuomo pledged to deliver by the end of 2015.

"We don't want to have different cities with different rates competing amongst themselves," Cuomo said in a radio interview. "This could be a chaotic situation."

The dual setbacks came just a day before de Blasio delivers his first budget address and is expected to outline the fiscal challenges facing the city because of impending contract negotiations with all 150 municipal unions.

Associated Press writer Mike Hill in Albany contributed to this report.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:30:48 GMT
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:20:19 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:48:14 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices