In debate over pre-K, Cuomo cautions against creating “two states”

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the New York City airwaves to tout the state’s expected $8 billion Medicaid waiver, which will allow the state to keep a portion of the cuts it has made to the program and reinvest it in health care systems.

But unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long until the ongoing debate over funding pre-kindergarten came up.

In a radio interview with WNYC, Cuomo was asked about a barrage of statements from upstate mayors mimicking Cuomo’s position that pre-K should be expanded statewide, not just in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has pushed for universal, full-day pre-K in the city and wants to pay for it with a tax on the city’s wealthy.

Cuomo channeled Bill de Blasio’s campaign theme — that NYC has become a “tale of two cities” (which itself channels Mario Cuomo’s 1984 Democratic National Convention speech [which channeled Charles Dickens]) — in arguing for a plan that would work statewide.

“The answer to the tale of two cities is not to create two states,” Cuomo said.

Earlier this week, Cuomo argued that de Blasio’s pre-K plan was unfair to children in other parts of the state. De Blasio, meanwhile, argues that Cuomo’s plan wouldn’t provide enough money or a steady funding stream to maintain the program.

Cuomo has proposed using $1.5 billion in existing state fund to expand pre-K across the state over five years. De Blasio wants to increase the income tax on those in the city earning more than $500,000 a year, and believes an expansion would cost $2.6 billion over five years in the city alone.

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