Senate Leaders Propose Full Pre-K Funding for New York City, Minus the Tax Increase

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The New York Senate's majority leaders have put forth a budget plan that would give New York City the funding it wants to expand pre-kindergarten and after-school programs. And with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker hinting at support for the senate's plan, the proposal appears to take Mayor Bill de Blasio's tax increase entirely off the table.

The budget resolution released Thursday evening would direct $540 million to New York City each year for five years for the educational programs. The plan also includes pre-k funding for charter schools. They were previously barred from receiving state funds for pre-k.

Essentially, it's everything Mayor Bill de Blasio was asking for -- except for the tax. 

The mayor had repeatedly stated that a tax hike on the city's wealthiest earners was the most stable way to fund his vision for universal full-day pre-k and after-school programs for middle school students. But he heaped praise on senate majority leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, calling their plan an "unprecedented commitment" to fund the programs.

After initially supporting the mayor's tax plan, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver indicated on Thursday that he would back the senate's proposal as long as it came "without conditions, without attachments."

"I'm not married to a tax hike," he said.

In his own budget plan, Governor Cuomo proposed allocating $100 million next fiscal year for pre-k expansion statewide, far below what de Blasio wanted for New York City alone. But the governor said districts could receive more.

"As we have said from the beginning, pre-k funding will ultimately be determined by each individual school district’s actual ability to create an eligible program on a timely basis," the governor said in a statement released Thursday. "Once it is determined that a plan is operational, the state will meet the locality’s need to that amount."

The governor and state lawmakers have until April first to approve a state budget.