Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a different stance today on the battle over funding for pre-kindergarten: He won’t put a pricetag on it.
Cuomo said that New York City and other districts that are ready to start a pre-k program will need to get moving if they want state aid.
But he won’t say how much is available: He proposed $1.5 billion over five years in his budget, yet that appears to be much less than what the Legislature and Cuomo will settle on for the fiscal year that starts April 1.
“I want to do it a different way. Nobody gets a predetermined amount. It’s in essence a first come, first serve,” Cuomo told reporters today in Manhattan. “And I want to use that competition to get them to bring the units online quickly.”
“The mayor of New York City says he’s ready to move quickly. Other mayors of other cities say they are ready to move quickly,” Cuomo continued. “I want to get it done as quickly as possible: I’m saying fine: first come, first serve.”
The Senate and Assembly have indicated in recent days that they essentially agree with Cuomo and want to fund pre-k in the state budget — rather than letting New York City raise income taxes on the rich to pay for it.
Cuomo said by making the money available on a first come, first serve basis, it will push schools to get the program up and running.
“I want them to have a sense of urgency. There is no set amount of money for New York City under my plan,” Cuomo continued. “It’s whatever they need, when they need it.”