New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks that all of the state's littlest learners deserve access to high-quality preschool, but it's not an idea he will be addressing during his State of the State speech on Wednesday.
On Sunday evening, Capital New York reported the governor would be unveiling a plan for statewide universal preschool during his annual address. However, during a press conference Monday, the governor quickly shot down the rumors, suggesting he does not know how the state would pay for such an initiative, according to the New York Daily News.
Capital New York reported Cuomo is interested in proposing a universal preschool plan that differs from that of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's in terms of funding. While de Blasio has been touting a plan for universal preschool in the city that would be funded by a tax hike on the rich, Cuomo, who has pledged to slash taxes, reportedly wants to fund statewide universal preschool using funds from the state budget.
However, Cuomo denied such reports this morning.
"I am in agreement with the mayor that pre-K is the direction this state has to head," Cuomo said at a press conference, according to the New York Daily News. "Once we get there on the goal, the question becomes, 'How do we pay for it? And that's going to be a broader conversation with the Legislature when everything else is on the table."
At the same time, de Blasio continued to promote his proposal for New York City at a press conference this morning and declined to comment on reports of Cuomo’s plan.
“I will always tell you, I have just the greatest respect for the governor … he has made a very clear priority of pre-k, and I commend him for it. That is different from reaching every child here and now,” de Blasio said. “We don’t want to phase in, we don’t want a someday … this is a here and now thing.”
Cuomo has been supporting the idea of universal preschool for months, although he has been reluctant to suggest a specific funding source.
“[De Blasio and I] are on exactly the same track that pre-K is a great service and a necessary service -- the question becomes how to pay for it,” Cuomo told reporters in November, according to CBS New York.
Still, several members of state government have come out in favor of de Blasio’s idea. New York State Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein has been stumping for de Blasio’s plan in Albany.
"I'm not in favor of taxing just for the sake of taxing someone," said Klein, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, according to radio outlet WNYC. "But if you explain to people the benefits to society as whole, to pay a little more to fund universal pre-k for all 4 year olds, I think you'll get people on board."