Bill de Blasio

De Blasio’s Victory Lap

From the morning memo, the second item:

A memo from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s director of intergovernmental affairs, Emma Wolfe, takes something of a victory lap on the state budget.

De Blasio and his team have been pointing to the $300 million in funding for universal pre-K in this year’s state budget as a major win for the rookie mayor.

De Blasio had campaigned on the push for a tax hike for those earning $500,000 and more a year in order to fund the program.

The mayor had later said he would support $540 million in funding from the state without the tax. Essentially, de Blasio said, he wanted a secured, dedicated funding stream.

And in the memo from Wolfe — who has served as de Blasio’s emissary to the Capitol — it’s pointed out that skepticism ruled the day as the mayor stumbled out of the gate and appeared to be outplayed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The Mayor’s fight for universal pre-K and afterschool was not without its fair share of detractors,” Wolfe wrote. “For months, opponents and naysayers cast doubt on the viability and wisdom of the plan, arguing that the Mayor should aim lower and not base his signature issue on Albany’s whims.”

She added, “Skepticism was high, but the Mayor kept his eye on the prize.”

UPK Interested Parties Memo by Nick Reisman

Buscemi Trains de Blasio For Inner Circle

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is getting some help — sort of — from Broadwalk Empire star and Brooklyn resident Steve Buscemi to get into shape for the rookie mayor’s first Inner Circle Show.

In the video, de Blasio and Buscemi in matching sweatsuits go through some acting drills and pump some iron — in between the mayor signs labor contracts.

“You are in crisis mode, my friend,” the actor tells him.

“Who do you think got Dinkins to sing? Who do you think got Bloomberg to dance? Who do you think got Rudy in that dress?”

This year’s Inner Circle Show is March 22.

DiNapoli: Pre-K Funding, Labor Contracts ‘Uncertainties’ In NYC Budget

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gave NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget proposal a thumbs up for the short term, saying he made appropriate use of higher than expected tax revenues to reduce out-year budget gaps and to
replenish reserves.

But the comptroller also warned that the potential cost of labor negotiations on some 150 outstanding municipal contracts “casts a shadow of uncertainty on the city’s finances.

“While strong economic growth has boosted city revenues, Mayor de Blasio continues to grapple with ongoing structural deficits and labor contracts that have remained unsettled for far too long,” DiNapoli said.

“The final cost and structure of these agreements may not be known for some time. This plan is a strong starting point for the mayor and I urge him to remain cautious and look at the long-term picture.”

That concern echoes the assessment of DiNapoli’s New York City counterpart, Comptroller Scott Stringer, who recently called the contracts the “Achilles heel” of the de Blasio administration, and said budget chaos will ensue if the mayor doesn’t reach agreements with the city’s labor unions by the end of June.

DiNapoli’s analysis suggests that revenues could be higher than what the de Blasio administration has forecast, but found it still faces a number of large budget risks.

Besides the outcome of collective bargaining, other risks include the anticipated receipt of $1.2 billion from the planned sale of taxi medallions during fiscal years 2015 through 2017 and whether the Health and Hospitals Corporation will require additional financial assistance from the city. It is also unclear if federal aid for Sandy recovery will fall short of the city’s expectations.

DiNapoli left a blank when it comes to the question of funding for universal pre-K. De Blasio says his tax-the-rich plan would generate about $340 million to $350 million a year to enroll all the city’s four year olds, which is considerably more than the $100 million Cuomo has allocated in his 2014-15 budget proposal for pre-K statewide.

Another concern flagged by the state comptroller is the city’s projected growth in debt service and health insurance costs. Together they are expected to grow by $4.6 billion – or 47 percent – between FY 2013 through FY 2018, and to consume 24 percent of city fund revenue by FY 2018.

In recent years, DiNapoli notes the city has relied heavily on nonrecurring resources to balance the budget. The budgets for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 each count on about $2.5 billion in nonrecurring resources.

You can read DiNapoli’s entire report on the NYC budget here.

UPKNYC Comes Armed With Stats

In lobbying individual members of the state Legislature, the coalition supporting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push for universal pre-Kindergarten is coming prepared with district-by-district statistics breaking down who benefits.

The stat-fact sheet, like this one below for Assemblyman David Weprin’s district, provide data on the number of children in the district, their racial identity as well as income levels.

All of this comes on a mega lobbying day at the Capitol for both UPKNYC as well as charter schools.

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are meeting this afternoon, differ on how to fund universal pre-K.

Cuomo wants to fund a statewide version out of existing budget dollars, while de Blasio is pushing for a tax hike in the city, but that must be approved by Albany.

District Profile AD24 by Nick Reisman

Charter War Comes To Albany

ICYMI, here’s the lead item today’s Morning Memo:

The New York City-based war over charter schools will reach a head in Albany tomorrow, as hundreds from either side descend on the state Capitol for dueling rallies.

On one side: Former NYC Councilwoman and charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, who is furious with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for reversing co-location decisions by his predecessor, former Mayor Bloomberg, that would have allowed for the expansion of three schools operated by her Success Academy network.

Moskowitz has cancelled school tomorrow at all 22 of her charters, and plans to bus angry parents, students and teachers to Albany to protest de Blasio’s decision.

On the other side: De Blasio and his allies, who had already planned to be in Albany Tuesday to rally for his ever-more-out-of-reach plan to let the city tax wealthy residents to expand pre-K and after school programs in the five boroughs. De Blasio last week fanned the flames still further by calling Moskowitz’s rally a “sideshow,” insisting he would not be deterred by her plans.

There is a belief among de Blasio backers that that Moskowitz has launched her competing rally with the tacit approval – if not outright encouragement – of the pro-charter Cuomo administration, which is at odds with the mayor over pre-K funding.

Just last week, Cuomo was praising the charter school movement and its departed “champion” (Bloomberg), while refusing to weigh in directly on the co-location argument.

A Cuomo spokesman did not return an email seeking comment Sunday night.

Meanwhile, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos told the NY Post he’s prepared to fight on behalf of charter schools during the ongoing budget negotiations with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Skelos called de Blasio’s co-location decision “unconscionable.” He also expressed concern about the administration’s effort to redirect a $210 million construction fund used to build space for charter schools toward pre-K, and its plans to charge better-financed charter schools rent.

Not everyone in the charter community is at war with de Blasio. Twenty-three charter organizations have signed onto a Feb. 27 statement calling Moskowitz’s competing rally “not the right approach at this time,” and refusing to participate.

“Tuesday is not a day to be divided,” the letter reads. “Those rallying in Albany next week should stand together with the city and advocate – side by side – for our children, particularly the most underserved, and all of whom are public school students.”

Cynthia Nixon: ‘This Is About Real New Yorkers’

She may not be an everyday New Yorker, but actress Cynthia Nixon is touting a video from the coalition backing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-Kindergarten approach that features parents backing the plan.

“When I meet the parents, kids, early childhood educators, and activists who advocate every day for universal pre-K and after-school, I know we can win this,” Nixon wrote in the email to supporters.
“And the stories they share should remind all of us why we can’t afford not to. This is about real New Yorkers, and New York City’s plan offers all our kids a real shot at success. I’ll keep this message brief, because I want you to hear it from the parents and children themselves.”

The video comes as a major lobby day is to occur on Tuesday. De Blasio himself is expected to travel to Albany to drum up support for the proposal, which would tax those who make $500,000 and more a year to fund the program.

At the same time, advocates opposed to de Blasio’s push to reduce the available space in charter schools in New York City will also descend on the Capitol.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal would create a statewide pre-K system funded at $1.5 billion over five years.

In other words, it’s going to be a busy and loud day at the Capitol as the budget season begins in earnest.

Charter Schools Group Launches Digital Campaign

A pro-charter schools group is launching a digital campaign over the next several weeks on social media and other websites opposing multiple de Blasio administration efforts, it announced Monday.

The campaign, which features 30-second videos on YouTube, is part of an effort from Families for Excellent Schools opposing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent reduction of $210 million in capital as well as a new charter rent policy.

“The de Blasio administration has said parent voices matter to them, but they seem to be discounting ours,” said Rafael Lois, the father of two Girls Prep Bronx scholars who is featured in one of the videos. “My daughters are receiving an excellent education, which is their moral and legal right, and I will do everything in my power to make sure they continue to have these opportunities.”

Families for Excellent Schools added in a news release they are also concerned about that the administration “also continues to hint at plans” that would roll back charter co-locations.

New York City has 185 charter schools, which the coalition points out serves students who live in poverty and are 93 percent black or Hispanic.

The push comes a day after de Blasio’s latest trip to Albany for caucus weekend, when he again reiterated his push for a universal pre-Kindergarten program that would be paid for by taxing those who earn $500,000 and more a year.

The mayor did not mention the tax increase in an event with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he wants a statewide universal pre-K program without the tax increase for New York City.

The YouTube channel can be viewed here.

Ball Blasts de Blasio’s ID Card Plan (Updated)

Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee Chairman Greg Ball on Wednesday blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to carry city-issued identification cards.

Ball in a statement this morning plans to hold an oversight hearing on the ID card proposal, which the mayor included in his State of the City address this week.

“My concern is not about the illegal alien dish washer looking to get to work, this extreme Mayor’s proposal, joined by efforts in the New York State Senate to provide New York State driver’s licenses to illegals, will simply provide a mask to those seeking to harm the United States,” Ball said in a statement.

“Among the September 11th terrorists, 19 of them had over 300 aliases and identifications. They went to other states with lax identification laws and that’s why the U.S. Congress enacted the Real ID Act, to save lives. Now this crazed Mayor wants to forget all that.”

To be clear, the ID cards would not be the equivalent of a driver’s license, which is issued by the state.

Recall that one of the earliest walls Gov. Eliot Spitzer ran head-long into was a proposal to allow undocumented workers receive drivers’ licenses issued by the state, a move that was vehemently opposed by county clerks and became a campaign issue for Hillary Clinton, then running for the Democratic nomination for president.

But since it’s a city-issued card, it’s unclear what, if anything, Ball as a state lawmaker could do to block the proposal.

Supporters of the de Blasio plan, which he first raised during the campaign, say the card provide needed services to undocumented immigrants that they previously could not access.

But opponents, including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and now Ball, a Republican from Putnam County, see it as a security issue.

“New York’s security is America’s security,” Ball said in the statement. “While this new Mayor is now free to focus on carriage horses and beyond, he should look back in recent memory when more responsible Mayors took terrorism and security more seriously. Beyond the fact that this action, if the federal government actually enforced its laws, constitutes a felony by the Mayor for aiding and abetting, this Mayor’s proposal is a homeland security nightmare, and must be stopped.”

UPDATE: Another statement slamming de Blasio’s ID plan was issued by Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, who called it a “national security nightmare.”

Anything DMV related generally serves as a flashpoint for the GOP, but in this case, the Republicans might do well to recall that their NYC mayoral candidate, Joe Lhota, not only endorsed the IDs-for-immigrants idea during the campaign last year, but also said he supported the concept of letting them get driver’s licenses – though he didn’t plan to push that in Albany, should he have managed to get elected.

UPDATE2: Lhota reached out to clarify that while he has “always supported municipal ID cards (like Houston and Oakland)” for all New York City residents, he has “never” backed the idea of issuing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, Democrats are coming to de Blasio’s defense. Sen. Jose Peralta issued a statement saying that Ball’s “overheated anti-immigrant rhetoric stands in stark contrast with the view of many in law enforcement,” adding:

“Senator Ball seems not to be aware that municipal IDs have been used for years in cities from New Haven, Connecticut, to San Francisco, California, where they have greatly improved cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.”

“He also seems unaware that all immigrant driver’s licenses, including the one I have proposed in New York and those already in place in 11 states and Washington D.C., must be clearly distinguishable and meet with the approval of the Department of Homeland Security. With municipal ID’s and driver’s licenses, undocumented immigrants today would be able to better provide for their families, contribute more to the economy and fully integrate into the American mainstream, just as generations of immigrants to this country have before them.”

“Lumping these hard-working immigrants in with terrorists is the worst kind of irresponsible.”

UPK NYC Plans March 4 Lobby Day

From the morning memo, in case you missed it:

The coalition supporting the creation of universal pre-Kindergarten in New York City will descend on Albany March 4 to boost the issue.

According to the event’s organizers, the coalition plans to bring more than 2,000 advocates and supporters to the Capitol for what is being described as a “massive grassroots” day of lobbying and advocacy.

UPK NYC also plans to hold borough town halls featuring legislators across New York City this month.

The citywide pre-K program is a campaign pledge of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wants to hike taxes on those earning $500,000 and more a year in order to pay for it.

But the income surcharge needs to be signed off on by Albany, and Republican Senate lawmakers have indicated little willingness to take up the tax hike, especially in an election year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his budget proposal made an alternative plan: A statewide universal pre-K program that would be paid for out of the budget.

Cuomo’s plan would spend $1.5 billion over five years, with $100 million in the first year targeting needy school districts. Department of Education Commissioner John King has said the total annual cost of universal pre-K statewide is likely higher, $1.6 billion.

De Blasio Announces Stop-And-Frisk Agreement

New York City reached an agreement on Thursday with plaintiffs challenging the controversial stop-and-frisk procedure.

The agreement includes a federal court-appointed monitor over the next three years who will oversee the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy.

The monitor also has the power to issue reports to court on the city’s enactment of the policy adheres to Constitutional protections.

At the same time, city government will be involved in a “joint process” with community leaders to help overhaul the use of the procedure, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said.

“This is a defining moment in our history. It’s a defining moment for millions of our families, especially those with young men of color. And it will lay the foundation for not only keeping us the safest big city in America, but making us safer still. This will be one city, where everyone’s rights are respected, and where police and community stand together to confront violence,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The de Blasio administration previously began the process of asking the Court of Appeals to send the case to the federal district court.

The Department of Law, along with the plaintiffs in the case, have also agreed to recommend the court’s monitor have the three-year oversight with the stipulation that the NYPD is in “substantial compliance” with the ruling.

Once the resolution is formally confirmed by the court, the city will move to withdraw its initial appeal of the case striking down the broad aspects of stop and frisk.