Pre-K Advocates Protest Cuomo’s Meeting With Big Business in Midtown

Protest outside of Cuomo meeting.

The protest outside of Gov. Cuomo’s meeting.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met a chilly reception in New York City today.

Demonstrators from the Alliance for Quality Education took up post in the freezing streets outside Macy’s in Midtown to protest what they claim is the governor’s inadequate support for universal pre-K programs.

Mr. Cuomo visited the city today to brief business leaders on his new budget, including Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren and other members of the pro-business advocacy group Partnership for New York City. The plan, unveiled yesterday, allots $1.5 billion to fund universal pre-K across the state—putting him at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wants to raise taxes on the richest city residents to fund the programs, arguing that will provide a more reliable funding stream.

Mr. Cuomo–whose office did not immediately respond to a request for comment–has argued that he shares the same goals as the mayor, but that the issue needs a state-wide approach. That also put him at odds with the protesters assembled today, as they made clear during their rally, chanting, “Tax millionaires, fund pre-K!”

“We really want to see this pre-K plan happen, but we want it now, not in four years like Cuomo is planning,” said Julian Vinocur, a communications director for AQE. “With de Blasio’s plan, we’ll have pre-K by September.”

“Governor Cuomo, now is the time to take a stand for what is right,” added Elzora Cleveland. “We’re not talking about individuals, we’re talking about the children.”

A Cuomo staffer confirmed that the governor would be meeting with Partnership members to discuss the budget, but did not indicate whether Mr. de Blasio’s plan would be discussed.

This discrepancy between the governor’s and the mayor’s preschool budgets marks an early tension point between the two Democrats, who once worked together in the Clinton administration.