On the Capitol steps Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a fiery speech to thousands of charter school supporters, who were decked out in yellow and black and filled the park at the bottom of the steps.
At the same time, at an armory two blocks away, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a speech of his own, addressing hundreds who support his plan to tax the rich to fund universal, full-day pre-kindergarten in the city.
“They say it’s cold out here, but I don’t feel cold – I feel hot,” Cuomo said to cheers from the crowd, which stood outside while the temperature stayed in the 20s. “I feel fired up. We are going to save charter schools and you’re making it happen by being here today.”
The political implications of the rallies were difficult to ignore. Cuomo and de Blasio have been at odds over both charter schools and vpre-kindergarten.
De Blasio campaigned last year on a plan to increase New York City’s income taxes on those making $500,000 or more annually to fund a pre-K expansion in the city, while Cuomo has proposed using existing state funds to expand schooling for four-year-olds statewide.
Cuomo has also signaled the state would step in to support three charter schools in New York City that face eviction after de Blasio rescinded a Bloomberg-era approval that allowed them to use publicly funded buildings free of rent.
From Gannett’s Ashley Hupfl, who was at the de Blasio rally:
At the pre-K rally, de Blasio again made a pitch for his tax plan, which is supported by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx.
“Asking those who have done very well, asking those who are wealthy and making a half million or more to do just a little more so our children can succeed, just a little more so we can have a stronger city in the future,” de Blasio said. “Well, that’s just plain fair and the people know it’s fair.”
De Blasio’s plan has been met with opposition from Cuomo and Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County. Cuomo has proposed spending $1.5 billion in state funds over the next five years to expand full-day pre-K across the state.
The mayor has estimated it would cost more than $2 billion in New York City alone, and he wants the city program up and running by September, a point he repeated at the rally.
Via Hupfl, here’s video of de Blasio’s speech: