Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio met in Albany Monday to talk about Brooklyn's failing hospitals. The two Democrats also faced inevitable questions about their diverging plans to fund universal pre-kindergarten.
But even on issues where they disagree, these old friends presented a united front. Sitting with their senior aides in the Capitol’s Red Room, both greeted each other effusively before reporters.
“Special welcome to my friend the Mayor of New York. Welcome up north, good to see you here, good to have you here,” Cuomo said before launching into his argument for a $10 billion Medicaid waiver from the federal government to help transform Brooklyn’s healthcare system.
When it was the Mayor’s turn, he returned the kindness noting how long the men have known and worked together.
“I was just doing the math, governor, that next spring, spring 2015 marks 20 years of knowing each other,” said de Blasio, who also thanked the Cuomo for teaching him some of what he knows about making government work.
De Blasio also supports more federal funds for Brooklyn hospitals.
But where the two part company is on the future of Long Island College Hospital. De Blasio made a campaign pledge of saving the struggling Cobble Hill facility. Meanwhile, Cuomo's office says it's draining millions of dollars a month from its current operator, the State University of New York.
Rather than disagree in public, Cuomo turned to his secretary Larry Schwartz to give the update.
“The Governor's office and the mayor's office have excellent communication and we're working very closely together to resolve this problem,” Schwartz said.
Mayor de Blasio was in Albany Monday to push his pre-k plan — a five-year tax increase on the wealthiest city residents. Governor Cuomo supports universal pre-k, but wants to fund it through the state budget without any tax increase.
Sitting side by side, the smiling leaders were asked, if they both agree on pre-k, why can't they just go in a room and come up with one way to pay for it?
Both chuckling, the mayor and governor went back and forth.
“I like your confidence about the process of government. I really admire it,” de Blasio replied.
“It's about the money,” Cuomo chimed in adding, “it's about the funding and how we do it. It's the little details.”
“It's an ongoing dialogue,” said de Blasio.