deal or no deal
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo met behind closed doors today for about an hour in Albany, but appeared no closer to a resolution on their heated dispute over how to fund an expansion of pre-K.
Speaking to reporters in the capital, Mr. de Blasio repeatedly described the conversation as “productive” but said his plan to up taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents remains the “only reliable plan on the table.” Mr. Cuomo insists he can fund pre-K across the state with existing funds.
New York voters prefer Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund universal pre-K with existing state money over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to raise funds by taxing the rich, according to a new poll that is the latest bad news for the mayor’s signature plan.
A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows that city voters back the governor’s plan to fund pre-k with no new tax over Mr. de Blasio’s plan to tax the city’s highest-income earners by a 49-40 percent margin–just within the poll’s margin of error. The number is higher, 47-37, across the state.
As they face down the fiscal cliff, a growing number of Republicans are abandoning the pledge not to increase taxes that they made to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. Today, Hudson Valley Rep. Chris Gibson came up with what might be the most creative excuse yet for breaking the pledge. Mr. Gibson saw his district number change from 20 to 19 during this year’s redistricting process and he reasoned that the pledge no longer applies to him as it was only to the constituents under the previous district number.
“The Congressman signed the pledge as a candidate in 2010 for the 20th Congressional District,” his spokeswoman explained. “Regarding the pledge moving forward, Congressman Gibson doesn’t plan to re-sign it for the 19th Congressional District, which he now represents (the pledge is to your constituents of a numbered district).”
Earlier today, President Barack Obama gathered with the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress to move forward in avoiding automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to occur at the end of the year. Although Democrats and Republicans have, at times, seemed to have irreconcilable differences in the process, the various elected officials walked out of the Roosevelt Room with an optimistic outlook that a compromise would be reached.
“I can only echo the observations of the other leaders that it was a constructive meeting. We all understand where we are….We are prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, according to a White House pool report. “Most of my members, I think without exception, believe that we’re in the dilemma we’re in not because we taxed too little but because we spent too much.”
In order to keep the city’s fiscal house in order in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled new cuts and streams of revenue over the weekend. Among the changes, school-lunch fees will increase from $1.50 to $2.50, while city libraries will see their funding axed to the tune of $8.3 million. Asked about it during a press conference today in the hard-hit Howard Beach neighborhood in Queens, Mr. Bloomberg defended the budgetary measures.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t like A, B and C,’” he argued. “Well, what things would they like us to raise taxes [on]? The issue here is that we’re trying to find some balance so that everybody shares a little bit in the pain, everybody contributes; we’re all in this together. And do it such that people can afford [it]. It’s not asking a lot to go, in this day in age, from one price to another if it’s a relatively small price. But if a large number of people do it, it contributes significant revenues.”