It only sounds like gibberish: Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos’ reiteration of his refusal to allow New York City’s home-rule message for a high earners’ surcharge on the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio repeated his call for such a mechanism to pay for universal pre-K education in the city has prompted a Feburary flurry of releases.
Here they are, newest on top:
From Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver:
I and the Assembly Majority have been advocating for universal pre-k for 20 years. Senator Skelos’ position is unacceptable and we will not take a viable option off the table.
From Democratic state Sen. Bill Perkins:
Today, Senator Dean Skelos publicly stated that he will not allow a vote on constitutionally authorized home-rule legislation that would implement the cornerstone components of Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten plan—including the funding mechanism—an exceptionally modest surcharge on NYC’s wealthiest. This type of preemptive prognostication has no place in the legislative process of a representative democracy like the Senate where 63 individuals are elected to express and act upon local priorities.
Ironically, myself and all of my colleagues stood on the Senate floor just last week and earnestly supported Senator Skelos when he brought much needed home rule legislation (Senate Bill 5922) to the floor that would authorize the City of Long Beach to issue bonds to help pay for Hurricane Sandy related damages. It was the right thing to do and we had his back; today it appears that his back is turned on our youngest and most vulnerable.
The constitutionally protected right of home rule—and the educational future of NYC’s three and four year olds—cannot be subject to the ideological whims and political calculations of a single State Senator. Therefore, I urge Senator Skelos to honor the principle of home rule and let Mayor de Blasio’s Universal Pre-K plan to the floor for a vote when the Senate receives a home rule message from the NYC Council—just as we did with Senate Bill 5922 when the City of Long Beach needed our support.
From Sen. Brad Hoylman:
The State Senate governing coalition must allow a vote on Mayor de Blasio’s plan for a reliable and adequate funding stream to provide Universal Pre-K in New York City. The Mayor won election on this proposal with the largest margin for a newly-elected mayor since the Consolidation of New York City in 1898. It would be an affront to the voters of New York City if the Senate does not bring the Mayor’s proposal to the floor.
From Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU:
“The Senate Republicans should stop blocking a vote on Mayor de Blasio’s plan to provide universal pre-k to all New York City children. There is widespread agreement on the benefits of early childhood education, and it is an issue that our members feel passionately about. The tiny tax on the city’s wealthiest residents is a very small price to pay for helping to level the playing field for the city’s youngest and most vulnerable residents. Our members will make their voices heard in Albany on this issue.”
From Bob Master, Legislative and Political Director for District One of the Communications Workers of America:
“New York City’s plan for Universal Pre-K and after school is popular not just in the city but across the entire state, and deserves a full vote. Home rule requests from other localities routinely come to the floor in the Senate, and the Pre-K plan should be no different — especially given Albany’s long history of paying lip service, but not the funds needed, to Universal Pre-k.”
From Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York:
“Senator Skelos seems to have no problem letting towns and cities outside of New York City raise their taxes. To say that the families of New York City don’t get a chance to see where their legislators stand on their city’s plan to provide universal pre-K and afterschool programs is offensive and anti-democratic. As Mayor de Blasio showed in his State of the City address today, this is about people like Make the Road member Rocio Espada who just want the best for their kids.”
From Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education:
“It makes no sense for Senator Skelos, the co-leader of the Senate, to block a vote on Mayor de Blasio’s pre-K plan,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “New York City has offered up a plan to provide quality pre-K for all four-year-olds and to pay for it on their own, but Senator Skelos seems to prefer having the state shoulder the burden of these costs. We agree with Senator Klein, the other co-leader of the Senate, that any pre-K plan for New York City needs to cover all four-year-olds. Senator Skelos has echoed the Governor in saying that the Governor’s plan will cover all four-year-olds in New York City, but in fact, it would only cover one-eighth of four-year-olds this year.”
From Democratic Sen. Mike Gianaris:
“Mayor de Blasio’s priorities should not so easily fall victim to the oxymoronic arrangement under which the State Senate is ruled. Too many important issues have been blocked by a minority of Senators empowered by the Coalition leadership. It would be a shame for universal Pre-K to meet the same fate.”
From the Campaign for Children:
“Senator Skelos’ statement today declaring there would be no vote on the City’s pre-k and after-school proposal is simply unacceptable. New York City should have home rule authority to raise its own taxes for the long-awaited expansion of programs that our children desperately need. Denying a vote on this crucial matter is a violation of the democratic process and ignores the historic precedent established under Mayors Dinkins, Giuliani and Bloomberg as well as the votes the Senate regularly takes to allow other cities, towns and counties to raise their taxes,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York.
“It’s disappointing that Senator Skelos has unilaterally decided that New York’s children don’t deserve a vote on the City’s plan to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers a small amount to ensure that the city can provide universal, quality pre-K and afterschool programs. The State Senate votes on lots of home rule measures for lots of places. The least they could do is afford New York’s children the same respect,” said Melanie Hartzog, Executive Director, Children’s Defense Fund of New York.
“New York’s plan deserves a vote,” said Michelle Yanche, Assistant Executive Director for Government and External Relations at Good Shepherd Services. “For over 15 years we’ve waited on funding from the state. It’s time Albany gives the City the right to do what more than 70 percent of New Yorkers agree with, allow NYC to create a dedicated funding stream to fund universal pre-k and expanded after-school programs.”
“Let the members of the Senate vote on New York City’s plan to provide a dedicated funding stream that guarantee all children have access to full-day pre-K and after-school programs. Denying a vote on legislation that has such overwhelming support is back room politics at its worst,” said Gregory Brender, Policy Analyst at United Neighborhood Houses of New York.
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