Dolan Joins de Blasio to Campaign for Pre-K, but Not for Tax Hike

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Getty)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan with Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Getty)

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, though jubilant about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire to expand universal prekindergarten across the city, stopped short today of endorsing his plan to hike taxes to fund the program.

Appearing with Mr. de Blasio in the Bronx to promote the Catholic Church’s partnership on the pre-K expansion, Mr. Dolan refused to specifically back Mr. de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents to fund pre-K and after-school programs.

“Listen, all I’m grateful for is that we’ve got leaders, Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, who are passionate about this. How’s it gonna be done, how it’s gonna be funded, I leave it up to them,” Mr. Dolan told reporters when asked whether he supported the tax hike. “I’m just grateful that it’s in the spotlight and that they’re working hard to get it done.”

“And I’m grateful for your partnership,” Mr. de Blasio responded with a smile.

Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo both support the expansion of pre-K and after-school programs in the city, but are at odds over how to fund them. Mr. de Blasio is seeking a tax hike on the city’s highest income-earners, while Mr. Cuomo wants to use existing state funding. The mayor has argued the new tax is the only funding stream reliable enough to sustain the program. 

But Mr. de Blasio needs the approval of the state legislature and Mr. Cuomo to raise New York City’s income tax and his prospects of securing such a hike appear to be dimming. Standing with Mr. Dolan today, however, Mr. de Blasio sounded undeterred, though less insistent about the need for the tax hike than at previous events.

“I think the Cardinal said it best … We agree on the need for pre-K to be a priority,” Mr. de Blasio said of himself and Mr. Cuomo. “I’m a glass half full kind of guy. So I like to say: Last year at this time, go back and look at the headlines, that we weren’t talking about the need to make pre-K as crucial a part of our education system as we are today.”

“And that’s the blessing here, that now it’s not a question of if any longer, it’s just how we’ll get it done,” he added.