New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio met with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and a contingent of Assembly Democrats at Silver’s annual holiday luncheon this afternoon. The topic? De Blasio’s signature policy idea: raising taxes on the wealthiest New York City residents to pay for a universal preschool and afterschool program.
“It was very warmly received by the Assembly members,” de Blasio said after the meeting. “A lot of energy, a lot of willingness to help us make this a reality.”
De Blasio pointed to “powerful” numbers from a recent Quinnipiac University poll that found that most New York City residents are in favor of his preschool proposal. He also noted that the idea also got a favorable response from upstate voters in the same poll, with 64 percent supporting the plan. The latter numbers are more noteworthy; while Assembly members are likely to be in lockstep with de Blasio politically, upstate Republicans and state senators will require more persuading.
Asked what argument he might make for his proposal to Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, de Blasio indicated that his message would be one of populist appeal–that in order to keep up with the changing economic landscape, the city and state can no longer afford to fall further behind in education.
“For the good of New York City and state, if we’re going to be competitive in the world, we have to fix our schools,” he said. “That begins with early childhood education, and after-school has been proven to be a way to substantially improve outcomes and add time, in effect, to the school day through another methodology.”
De Blasio noted that Skelos has been supportive of early childhood education in the past. The incoming mayor also pledged to sit down with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the “not too distant future.”
De Blasio also weighed in on Sunday’s Metro-North railroad derailment in the Bronx, specifically on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s absence during the crash. De Blasio said that “clearly, this was the governor’s purview,” but said that he would generally want to be visible at the scene of such an event when he is mayor. De Blasio added that he would generally notify the public of his whereabouts, so that no questions would arise about his location during a crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg was on a golf course in Bermuda when the crash occurred.
“Mayor Bloomberg is the mayor for the remainder of this month and we respect that, it is his choice to make how he handled the situation and it’s important to defer to that,” de Blasio said.
With the leader of his transition team, Jennifer Jones Austin, by his side, de Blasio also said announcements on his selection for police commissioner and other administration posts would be coming this week.
Tags: Assembly Democrats, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Jennifer Jones Austin, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, Metro-North railroad crash, universal preschool