CIVIC CENTER— The state Senate’s one-house budget deal announced Thursday rejected Mayor Bill de Blasio's request for a dedicated universal pre-K tax, but earmarks $2.7 billion in dedicated funds for New York City over the next five years, the same amount the tax would have raised, according to sources familiar with the details.
The UPK financing was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, de Blasio praised the Senate co-leaders, Long Island Republican Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein of The Bronx, head of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, for “an unprecedented commitment” to funding the programs.
“Their powerful support for our children and families…represents a new consensus sweeping across this state,” the mayor said. “We will work closely with our state partners to ensure we have the sufficient, secure and ongoing resources needed to invest in the children of this city.”
IDC and Senate Republican officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this week, the state Assembly included funding for UPK and after-school programs in its budget, in the form of the mayor’s sought-after tax increase.
With both chambers including funding for de Blasio’s signature program — a plan considered dead on arrival by many in Albany just weeks ago — pressure now falls on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has already called for an increase in statewide funding for UPK in his budget, unveiled in January. De Blasio has said the funds offered by Cuomo are not enough to meet the city’s needs.
With the state budget due April 1, the leaders of the legislature must now sit down with the governor to reconcile their separate budgets, and it remains uncertain whether or just how UPK funding will appear in the final budget.
But Josh Gold, the political director for the Hotel Trades Council who’s leading the UPKNYC campaign, said the Senate’s decision represents a major win for the city.
“The most important thing that’s now very clear is that we are one giant step closer to having true universal pre-kindergarten for all our children,” he said.