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Queens Chronicle

State funds, not higher taxes, for pre-K

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Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:30 am

If you don’t have to raise taxes, don’t raise taxes.

Seems a simple enough dictum, but not for man on a mission Bill de Blasio. The mayor continues to insist that the state should raise taxes on all income above $500,000 earned by city residents, to pay for universal prekindergarten and more afterschool programs — even though Gov. Cuomo pledges to fund pre-K statewide in his new budget plan.

De Blasio just won his office with 73 percent of the vote, as he reminded the public in claiming that city residents want not just pre-K but a tax hike on the wealthy to pay for it. His efforts to get Albany lawmakers to agree may or may not be one of the reasons de Blasio failed to meet the City Charter’s Jan. 16 deadline for proposing his first budget plan. One of the new City Council’s first acts was to give him a pass on the deadline. De Blasio is animated not only by his desire to improve education but by his belief that the government must take strong action to reduce economic inequality, in part by raising taxes on the wealthy.

Cuomo, on the other hand, has a centrist stance and wants to reduce a number of taxes, though not those on income. And he faces re-election this year, though most signs so far indicate he’ll win handily.

Largely due to Cuomo’s leadership, the state has a $2 billion surplus. Many officials, including de Blasio, would funnel that money into new or expanded programs. Cuomo wants to return it to the taxpayers instead, but says there’s enough to fund pre-K statewide too. That’s the better approach, especially when nearly everyone aside from the wealthiest has yet to recover from the recession.

Welcome to the discussion.