After a failed effort to oust the state Senate’s Republican majority and facing friction with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Albany Wednesday to ask lawmakers for money — lots of it.
De Blasio told a legislative budget panel that the city needs an additional $2.6 billion in school aid, $300 million to maintain its 334 public housing projects and the authority to set its own $13-an-hour minimum wage. The mayor also sought funds and tenant protections to fulfill his goal of creating or preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2025.
But the mayor faces challenges in the capital. The Senate continues to be run by a Republican majority elected in November after de Blasio campaigned across the state for Democratic candidates. Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island has rejected most of his proposals.
“As a Democrat, I want to see Democrats win elections,” de Blasio later told reporters. “We should all be able to work together.”
Cuomo has repeatedly sought to undermine his fellow Democrat’s programs. Last year, the governor shot down the mayor’s first initiative, an income-tax surcharge on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for universal all-day prekindergarten.
A year ago, as the mayor rallied unions around the pre-K surcharge in Albany, Cuomo organized a competing event at the Capitol to advocate for more charter schools, a policy de Blasio opposes.
Last Wednesday, the governor invited reporters to a cabinet meeting to discuss college assaults at the same time de Blasio was testifying before lawmakers. Asked if he had intentionally sought to undermine de Blasio, Cuomo said, “Only a really twisted mind would come up with that one.”
There were other slights this month as well. Cuomo rejected de Blasio’s proposals for a massive housing development that would be built on a platform over a state-owned rail yard in Queens. And a Cuomo spokesman called a request to allow the city its own minimum wage a “non-starter.”
“I respect the governor; I’ve known him for 20 years,” de Blasio said, dismissing questions about Cuomo’s actions. “We don’t agree on everything, but we’ve gotten a lot done.”
De Blasio also finds himself dealing with a new and untested Albany after Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, was named Assembly speaker this month. De Blasio and Heastie have sparred in the past, most recently last year over who should be City Council speaker.