Mayor Bill de Blasio made his first trip up to Albany as mayor of New York City today and quickly downplayed any difference with the governor–potentially his biggest hurdle in the weeks ahead.
“I think it’s been a very positive day as I prepare to build a very constructive working relationship with all the leaders in Albany,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State speech. “I think this speech’ll be a great road-map for so much of our work going forward.”
Clearly attempting to play nice, Mr. de Blasio nevertheless glossed over differences with Mr. Cuomo, including the mayor’s signature plan to raise taxes on the rich to fund universal pre-K and after school programs. While Mr. Cuomo again endorsed the idea of expanding pre-K–in a single line in today’s lengthy speech–he has yet to embrace the tax hike idea.
But Mr. de Blasio said he was pleased, insisting that he and Mr. Cuomo were on the same page.
“Well, I think it was a broad statement of principal and it was a fantastic statement,” he said of the governor’s brief treatment, arguing that his tax incrase proposal was just a local method of implementing the larger goal.
“I think it’s fantastic that he’s talking about this becoming a goal for the whole state,” he said. “I was gratified for all of us who care about this issue that he put it front and center.”
Mr. de Blasio also dismissed differences when it comes to taxes, which Mr. Cuomo is pushing to reduce across the board, insisting the pair’s approaches were not at odds.
“I think there’s not a dichotomy because you have two levels of government … I think the state has a vision for the state and I respect that vision. We have a vision for our own city and we simply want an acknowledgement of that so we can move forward,” said the new mayor, further endorsing Mr. Cuomo’s focus on reviving the economy upstate.
“I appreciate the changes of the upstate economy and as governor he is absolutely right to focus on those challenges,” Mr. de Blasio said. “As a mayor, you can’t help but feel solidarity with your fellow mayors. Buffalo’s been through a lot and I think the governor’s right to focus on being to bring Buffalo back.”
But one area where Mr. de Blasio staked out more aggressive ground was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor argument against his plan to charge rent to charter schools–which Mr. Cantor said would be devastating.
“I don’t typically look for education advice from Eric Cantor,” Mr. de Blasio said with a laugh. “We have a real difference on where this country should go going forward. I respect him as a leader in our congress, but I just think he’s dead-wrong on this issue,” he said, arguing it was perfectly reasonable to charge for use of public spaces.
“I want to emphasize–and I hope Mr. Cantor looks at these facts–you look all over the country, the norm is to charge rent when school space is made available for outside organizations,” he said.