Capital New York De Blasio allies organize lawmaker visits to pre-K programs by Eliza Shapiro

Capital New York
Capital New York
De Blasio allies organize lawmaker visits to pre-K programs
Eliza Shapiro
01/31/2014

A pre-K advocacy group allied with Mayor Bill de Blasio is inviting state legislators from both parties to visit pre-K centers in the city, the most recent effort in a prolonged push toconvince Albany's influencers to fight for the mayor's pre-K tax plan.

The first taker was Assembly education chair Catherine Nolan, a labor-friendly Queens Democrat, who yesterday visited Sunnyside Community Services to observe its half-day pre-K program. Administrators of the Sunnyside program will apply to make it a full-day program if funding is made available through de Blasio's proposed tax hike. 

(The executive director of the Sunnyside pre-K center, Judy Zangwill, said in a statement from organizers that her program will be "first in line to apply for full-day funding from the City.")

UPK NYC has ratcheted up its advocacy efforts in the last two weeks, since Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced a competing, statewide pre-K funding plan that doesn't include a high-earner tax hike. 

De Blasio and his supporters say Cuomo's $1.5 billion investment in pre-K over five years will be inadequate for the city's needs. But unless Cuomo and the Legislature can be persuaded to agree, de Blasio's tax-funded plan won't happen. 

A number of business leaders, including Rockefeller Family Fund director Lee Wasserman, signed onto the mayor's pre-K plan with week, and Atlantic Yards developer (and de Blasio supporter) Bruce Ratner said he supported the tax on an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, calling it a "minimum amount of money."  

Nine members of Congress from New York City also signed on to the plan on Thursday, and Councilman Ben Kallos campaigned for the mayor's plan outside the 4 and 5 trains on the Upper East Side on Friday morning.