ALBANY — The state's $142 billion budget was released Saturday, and advocates of New York City public schools lauded an increase in funds for city schools and provisions for universal pre-kindergarten programming.
Lawmakers reached a deal that would give $300 million to the city to help fund universal pre-K, a cause Mayor Bill de Blasio had championed over the past year. The budget also includes a 5.3 percent increase in education aid for 2014-15, 70 percent of which will go to high-needs school districts, many of which are in the city.
The universal full-day pre-kindergarten, which accounts for $1.5 billion of the budget, would be paid for and phased in statewide over the course of five years, and was a contentious issue after de Blasio announced a plan to tax wealthier New Yorkers to pay for it.
Education advocates cheered the budget after it was announced midday in a press conference by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Mayor de Blasio said the investment in such "foundational changes" would help improve the quality of schools and the educational system citywide.
"Through ups and downs, we never wavered from our promise to the people of this city to expand full-day pre-K and afterschool for our children starting this September. Today that pledge became a reality," said de Blasio.
"We can add new high quality after-school programs and begin to address the challenges we face in our education system."