ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio implored lawmakers in Albany on Wednesday to give New York City its fair share in funding and him more control over its schools and housing laws.
De Blasio framed his budget testimony with the central promise of his administration, a pledge to fight income inequality, by asking for the state to devote some of its multibillion-dollar surplus to combat homelessness, improve schools and preserve affordable housing.
“It will only be possible for the city with a strong, sustained partnership with Albany,” de Blasio said. “The moment has come for the city to get its fair share of state funding.”
Repeatedly, de Blasio outlined examples when the city had not received the money it deserved from the state, noting that the city is home to 43 percent of the state’s population yet pays 50 percent of its taxes.
He asked the state for an additional $300 million for health and safety improvements — a figure the city would then match — in New York’s public housing system.
With creating and saving affordable housing the centerpiece of his yearly agenda, he asked the state for a number of reforms, including strengthening rental protections and ending the practice of restoring rent-controlled apartments to market rates if they become vacant.
The mayor has also vowed to combat the city’s homelessness problem and asked for $32 million this year and more in the coming years for rental assistance. And he derided Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan that would eliminate funding that could have provided shelter for 500 people.
That was not the only moment in which de Blasio challenged Cuomo, a fellow Democrat and professed friend who has repeatedly stood in the way of the mayor’s agenda.
The mayor criticized Cuomo for “woefully underfunding” the budget of the regional Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for proposing a minimum wage hike that falls far short of the $13 per hour de Blasio wants and for suggesting that the state seize control of any struggling schools or school districts.
“The governor has also proposed state takeover of struggling districts and schools, but the fact is mayoral control already makes clear who is responsible for struggling schools in New York City: I am,” he said. “I am fully accountable to the people of New York City.”
Rather, de Blasio asked that mayoral control of the city school system, which has to be renewed every few years, be made permanent.
“This is a policy idea that works, that creates absolute and total accountability,” he said. “That’s exactly what we need in education, that’s why I think it should be made permanent.”