The fight over pre-k and the mayor's call to raise the city's minimum wage are both stirring up a lot of controversy in Albany. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
After suggesting on Monday that he may hold up the state budget unless Republicans allow a vote on Mayor Bill de Blasio's pre-k plan, Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein appeared to backtrack on Tuesday.
"I don't think we're holding up the budget over UPK," Klein said. "I think what we've seen is that we've raised the dialogue to a level that I think is very, very important. Everyone in New York State now wants to do universal pre-k."
Mayor Bill de Blasio says that the tax on the wealthy is necessary to fund the program in the city, but Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to avoid a tax and use state funds for a statewide program.
Klein left the door open to either approach.
"It's up to us to either come up with the money or adopt the mayor's plan," he said.
"The real problem comes down to the fact that we have no leadership in this senate, both Senator Klein and Senator Skelos, who each have a veto power," said state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens. "We have a minority of conservative Republicans in the state Senate who are allowed to stop anything progressive from happening, even when the votes are there to achieve it."
On Monday, the mayor laid out his vision for the city, but some of those ideas require Albany approval. In addition to the tax for universal pre-K, there is a proposal that would allow New York City and other municipalities to raise their minimum wage without state approval.
"We all know New York City is much more expensive than Plattsburgh," said state Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "We understand that what happens in Brooklyn is different from what happens in Buffalo."
Cuomo shot down the idea in a radio interview.
"This could be a chaotic situation, so the balance is very important," he said. "And that's what the constitution tries to establish. The balance."
Former City Councilman Oliver Koppell issued a statement saying that Klein's arrangement with Skelos a backroom deal. He also pointed out that he lives in Klein's district, which some interpreted as a threat to challenge Klein in a primary.