De Blasio Wants Albany to Let New York City Govern Itself

Cuomo and de Blasio

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo: Spencer Platt for Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio would like Albany to get out of New York City’s way.

“We have the third-largest governmental budget of any locality in America, after the state of California and the state of New York. It makes no sense that there are so many areas where we need Albany approval,” Mr. de Blasio said today at an unrelated press conference for his pre-kindergarten program, which he originally wanted to pay for with an income tax that was rejected by—you guessed it—Albany. “This city deserves more self-determination.”

Like many a mayor, Mr. de Blasio has seen many a priority wither and die in Albany, the income tax hike among them (the state eventually provided other funding for the program). His quest for permanent control of the city’s schools failed. His plans for update and renew the 421a housing tax credit fell apart. He’d love to change the property tax system, he’s said, but that’s another one of those pesky things he can’t do without Albany. (It has not helped that Mr. de Blasio and the man who runs Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have been locked in a months-long feud.)

Mr. de Blasio’s comments about self-determination came after he was asked whether he’d backed the Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar because it was a transportation project that was “Albany-proof.” Mr. de Blasio and the city have control of the streets—unlike the subways, which are governed by Albany.

“Whenever we can come up with a particular plan that we can run directly, of course we want to do that,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Because we want it to actually work, we want it to get done, we do not want to get it lost in bureaucracy, and certainly not have decisions about our people made, you know, 150 miles away that don’t need to be.”

Despite the well-documented difficulty of getting anything accomplished in Albany, Mr. de Blasio was still hopeful that the system could be changed to give the city more control—citing the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which gives Albany control of the city’s rent laws, as one priority.

“Cities are becoming more and more the focal point of where, you know, people are moving, where the economy is centered, and we need the ability to get things done,” Mr. de Blasio said. “So, I strongly believe that is the reality. I strongly believe it must be changed.”

De Blasio Wants Albany to Let New York City Govern Itself