You might have assumed that once Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would fund universal pre-K programs without raising taxes, Mayor Bill de Blasio would move onto other business, such as figuring out how he’s going to negotiate new contracts with public employee unions without caving into demands for retroactive raises.
The centerpiece of Mr. de Blasio’s campaign last year was, of course, his demagogic proposal to fund pre-K programs by hiking taxes on the most successful city residents. But Mr. Cuomo, who has no interest in raising taxes in the middle of his reelection campaign, outfoxed him with his own plan.
Game over, right? Clearly not. Mr. de Blasio stubbornly soldiers on with this foolish and utterly irrelevant plan designed to warm the populist hearts of his true-believing core supporters. He was up in Albany the other day trying to win over legislative support for his plan, even though Mr. Cuomo essentially stole the issue, added a dose of fiscal sanity and now has made it his own.
Here’s the problem: Mr. de Blasio’s pointless visit to the legislature isn’t about governance. It’s about the perpetual campaign. And it’s time for Mr. de Blasio, a brilliant campaigner, to get off the stump and get down to business.
The mayor is a very bright guy, which is one of the reasons we endorsed him last year. He has to know that the state simply is not going to give the city permission to raise its income tax rate to pay for pre-K, especially now that the governor has a pre-K plan of his own.
The mayor is trying to make this a home-rule issue, arguing that Albany should not stand in the way of what he called “the city’s right to self-determination.” Well, as a matter of constitutional law, the city is a creation of the state and is governed by its statutes. More than a few mayors have found this inconvenient, but like them, Mr. de Blasio will just have to get used to the idea that Albany has and always will have control over the city’s income tax rates.
Mr. de Blasio still has time to position himself as one of the greatest political winners in New York history. After all, he is getting what he wants—universal pre-K—and he doesn’t even have to pay for it!
Rather than snarl at Governor Cuomo, Mr. de Blasio ought to send him a thank-you note.
How many rookie mayors, after all, have been given a billion-dollar housewarming gift from a veteran governor?
Declare victory, Mayor de Blasio. And then move on.