De Blasio Does About Face on Universal Pre-K Funding as Ratings Nosedive - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, July 4, 2022

De Blasio Does About Face on Universal Pre-K Funding as Ratings Nosedive

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio finds his popularity flagging in his first two months in office.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio finds his popularity flagging in his first two months in office.
Thirty-nine percent of registered voters in New York City approve of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s job performance just two months after he took office, according to a poll from The Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist.

The WSJ explained that while many New Yorkers view de Blasio favorable and say he “cares about the average person and is fulfilling his campaign promises, they don’t give him high marks as a chief executive.”

According to the poll, “10% of voters described de Blasio’s job performance as excellent, 29% characterized it as good, while 37% rated it as fair and 20% said he is doing poorly. The poll showed 5% either never heard of the mayor or were unsure how to rate him.”

De Blasio’s job-performance rating is notably lower than Bloomberg’s at the same point after he took office in 2002, the WSJ reported. At that time, Bloombrg was reveling in a 50% approved rate and only 6% said he was doing poorly in his new job.

“He still [has] a lot to do to convince people that he’s on top of the managing of the city and literally making positive changes—that’s not coming through yet to people,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

Miringoff told the WSJ that de Blasio’s low job-performance numbers could be related “to lingering unhappiness with the state of the economy, and he said that is reflected in job ratings for elected officials across the country.”

“Mayor de Blasio has focused the first 60 days of his administration on building, running and changing the direction of the government, and with a 59% favorability rating, the majority of New Yorkers approve of the direction he’s taking the city,” a spokeswoman for the mayor said.

The WSJ noted that the poll found a significant racial divide, with de Blasio’s base of black and Latino voters, giving him higher marks than white voters.

In related news, de Blasio is stepping back from his signature proposal, a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten, saying on Tuesday that he would accept a check from New York Governor. Andrew Cuomo to fund universal pre-K in place of his signature plan to tax high-income earners–as long as the governor provides enough cash, Politicker has reported.

“We haven’t seen the final plan yet … And what I’ve tried to say is we need the verification here for New York City that we’ll have the money each year we need for five years,” said the mayor, speaking this morning on Morning Joe.

“I’ve 100 percent said, ‘If we have a verifiable plan for five years and the dollar figures we need, we can accept that,” he continued. “But I’ve also said that I don’t believe, given the vagaries of Albany–and you’ve seen them–that we’re going to have anything that’s verifiable and consistent as the tax plan we’ve put forward.”

De Blasio and the governor have been locked in a showdown over how to fund the mayor’s signature program. Cuomo has pledged a blank check to fund state-wide programs, arguing it would be unfair to restrict the plan to the city. The mayor and his allies, however, have argued that the amount Cuomo has put forward in his preliminary budget proposal is insufficient to fund the pace and scope of expansion he wants. Politicker reports that lawmakers in Albany have until April 1 to include the funding, unless the budget is delayed.

First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris confirmed to reporters that the mayor is open to accepting state money–as long as the amount provided matched the $530 million the proposed tax is supposed to raise.

“Look, from the beginning, we’ve always made clear that the objective here has been a significant funding stream that supports the $530,” Shorris said. “We need a stable funding stream that is not going to be one year at a time, that is going to be as close as we can get to permanent or long-term. So we proposed a tax as the best way to do that. But the principles have always been the same: significant, stable, predictable funding so we can make sure that we can deliver the pre-K and after-school programs that we need.”

Up until now, de Blasio has repeatedly maintained the position that the only acceptable outcome would be a tax on the rich.

De Blasio is required by state law to get approval from Albany for any such tax increase. At one point, Vosizneias reported, Cuomo had “once mused that he’d offer de Blasio “a blank check” for pre-K, his preliminary budget directed far less money than the $340 million a year the mayor says it needs for 53,000 children this fall and 73,000 the next. If de Blasio can get the governor to increase his offer near that figure, the tax may have served its purpose even in defeat.”

“Who is going to begrudge a mayor who says, ‘I still prefer this via tax, but in interest of these kids, I will go forward?’” asked Jeanne Zaino, political science professor at Iona College. “That’s still a really good way out of it.”


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