Mayor Bill de Blasio testified in Albany Monday on an interagency report he released the same day detailing plans to provide free full-day pre-kindergarten for every 4-year-old in the city by increasing taxes on the wealthy.
“The reality is that today, fewer than 27 percent of 4-year-olds in New York City have access to full-day pre-K,” the mayor said.
To authorize the tax hikes, he will need permission from Albany lawmakers.
Specifically, he is asking for an income tax surcharge, which would increase the current 3.9 percent rate to a 4.4 percent rate on those with annual incomes of a half-million dollars or more over the next five years.
It would also allow for the expansion of middle school extended learning programs, de Blasio said.
At an average cost of $10,239 per child, under the plan, 73,250 children would be eligible for full-day pre-kindergarten by the 2015-2016 school year, beginning with 53,604 in September 2014.
The total cost is estimated at $340 million annually, with $97 million dedicated to start-up infrastructure and costs required to upgrade program quality in the first year.
The plan will require approximately 2,000 new classrooms in public schools and community-based settings across the city, according to the Department of Education.
Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a statewide plan for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten in his budget address last week, with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion over the next five years. The state would fully fund the program.
“That’s an idea we strongly endorse and we appreciate his leadership on this issue,” de Blasio said.
But he said the funding must be “predictable and consistent,” and isolated from the state budget.
“Universal pre-K and after-school programs must have a dedicated funding stream, a locked box, shielded from what we all know is the inevitable give and take of the budgeting process,” the mayor said.
According to the report, proceeds from “the proposed personal income tax surcharge will be dedicated solely to the expansion and enhancement of New York City’s pre – kindergarten and after-school programs. The city will place these funds in a ‘lockbox.’”