Klein And Labor Flex Muscles On Pre-K
From the morning memo:
It was a quick “no” uttered by Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos on Monday that launched a thousand press releases as de Blasio himself was wrapping up his first State of the City address that included an impassioned push for the tax plan.
What Skelos did was confirm the obvious, and something that he has sort of said only a few weeks earlier: He is against a vote on the Senate floor for a bill that would allow New York City to raise its income taxes in order to pay for universal pre-Kindergarten.
This time, affirming his opposition to the measure ignited something of a wave among Democrat officials and labor unions who saw a chance to remind opponents and observers of their growing power, especially on this issue.
The comment that raised the most eyebrows was Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, Skelos’ governing partner in the Senate, who declared he would not approve a budget that “fails to realize the vision Mayor de Blasio and I share” of universal pre-K.
More interestingly, Klein also took a direct shot at Senate Republicans, reminding them he was the reason why they retain power in the chamber in the first place.
“Senate Republicans comprise a minority in this chamber–they want more support for business tax cuts and we want more support for our kids,” Klein said. “Only by working together can we achieve a balance that works for everyone.”
It’s a striking comment, if only because Klein has never really defined the majority coalition in those terms before.
Aside from Klein trying to create some agitation over the passage of the state budget — it’s a hallmark for Gov. Andrew Cuomo that budgets are passed on-time over the last three years — the Skelos comment was also a chance for the New York City-based labor organizations backing the universal pre-K proposal to flex their muscles.
City labor organizations did little to hurt Senate Republicans in key battleground races, especially in Brooklyn where Sen. Marty Golden was victorious despite a strong Democratic challenger.
This time around, unions suggested they won’t sit on their hands.
“We will be bringing hundreds of our members to Albany to express directly to our state legislators that this is one of our highest priorities, and we will remember in the Fall elections who took a stand for working families,” said Kevin Finnegan, the political director of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
A few observers reminded me on Monday that Skelos does have a face-saving opportunity with granting the tax hike OK for New York City. While some legislators may face heat for backing a tax hike, they note the state budget contains $2.2 billion in tax breaks, including a plan that would offer a two-year property tax rebate, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said amounts to a “freeze” on increases — a proposal that could be a key exchange for the city’s tax hike.
That all being said, this may just be all moot. Cuomo has shown little willingness to back the de Blasio plan, going as far as inserting his own statewide version of universal pre-Kindergarten that would be funded out of the existing budget.
Last month, Cuomo and de Blasio both made a big point of showing how great friends they were, and how the policy debate over pre-K is one that will largely be resolved, somehow.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 11, 2014 at 10:19 am, and is filed under Labor. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|