Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s a happy man today.
Though the state budget agreement rolled out late last night provides mixed support for his agenda, Mr. de Blasio released a statement late this afternoon praising Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, especially for funding the universal full-day pre-K programs he has campaigned for endlessly.
“With the investment announced today, this state has made a powerful and historic decision that will change the lives of tens of thousands of children,” said Mr. de Blasio. “We set out down this road nearly 18 months ago. Through ups and downs, we never wavered from our promise to the people of this city to expand full-day pre-K and afterschool for our children starting this September.”
“Today that pledge became a reality. With this 5-year commitment, we can now move forward to deliver truly universal pre-K. We can add new high quality after-school programs and begin to address the challenges we face in our education system. These are foundational changes to our schools that will lift up every child,” continued Mr. de Blasio.
The deal, which still must pass the state legislature, gave Mr. de Blasio most of what he wanted for pre-K: $300 million dollars, just short of the $340 million he requested. But it did so without his signature proposal to tax the rich, which Mr. de Blasio had repeatedly argued was the only reliable way to fund pre-K.
The deal further undercut some of the controversial measures City Hall had taken against certain charter schools, forcing the city to provide space and barring Mr. de Blasio for charging some rent in traditional public school buildings.
But Mr. de Blasio focused on his victories in today’s statement, including a homeless subsidy program pushed at the last minute by his administration.
“This budget also recognizes the unprecedented homelessness crisis facing this city and our shared commitment to lift up people facing crisis. It represents a new beginning in our approach to homelessness by clearing the way for a new rent subsidy program that would help families transition out of our shelter system. These new partnerships between the city and state will mean we can begin turning the tide and protecting our most vulnerable. And I’m heartened that the budget provides a rent cap for those diagnosed with HIV or AIDS,” Mr. de Blasio said.
“We applaud what Governor Cuomo and our state legislature have accomplished for the people of this city,” he added. “I look forward to continuing to work together with the governor to move New York City forward.”