Tension Between NYC Mayor De Blasio and NY Gov. Cuomo Escalates

Pushing through an agenda so progressive it has made fellow Democrats balk is proving a difficult task for Bill de Blasio. The New York City mayor has already experienced significant resistance to his plan to raise taxes on the rich to fund universal pre-kindergarten, and now his minimum wage plan is in jeopardy in Albany.

According to Fox News, de Blasio's proposed plan to increase the minimum wage is getting as negative a reception as the plan to fund universal pre-K. Author Barnini Chakraborty notes that the latter has run into significant problems as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a state-wide universal pre-K plan that would make de Blasio's tax hike unnecessary--something de Blasio flatly rejected. Fox News notes that Cuomo called the idea of making rich neighborhoods fund themselves separately from the rest of the state "repugnant."

The minimum wage plan might meet a similar fate in Albany. In his State of the City address, de Blasio's minimum wage increase plan featured prominently along the universal pre-K idea and new proposition to give government identification to illegal immigrants, which would allow them to open bank accounts and access other resources in the city. Mayor de Blasio's plan, he explained, would be to urge Albany to allow New York City to raise its own minimum wage without touching the rest of the state. The plan would let de Blasio govern New York as more of a city-state than a mere city. It would necessarily require lawmakers in Albany to give away power to de Blasio, something to which they have already proven resistant. Governor Cuomo put it frankly: "We don't want to cannibalize ourselves."

Mayor de Blasio's tenure, short as it is, already has a defining trait: the push to increasingly distance the city from the rest of the state. He wants to be New York City's Pericles in an era where no American city can be allowed to be its own ancient Athens. (Ancient Athens, for one, had an army.) This is most particularly reflected in how specific de Blasio's demands for the city seem to be next to what lawmakers in Albany seem prepared to yield. Even with a legislature and an executive run by the same party, he appears less interested in achieving things than in the specific method he wants employed to achieve them. 

The fact that Cuomo proposed a plan to provide all New Yorkers with a universal pre-K program did not seem to sate de Blasio's thirst for a new tax on the wealthy--a campaign promise he insists on keeping, even though it is much more procedural than substantive and seems to have no political upsides. His other lofty proposals--the illegal immigrant ID cards and the minimum wage hike--are promises no mayor has any business making on the municipal level.

This latest tension with Albany highlights a bad week for the New York City mayor. In his third major snowstorm since taking office, New York City parents railed against city hall's decision to keep schools open, which forced small children to trek through frigid colds and slippery slush-like snow. The New York Post followed up on a narrative about the de Blasio administration first uncovered by Politicker: ideological interests have overridden any desire to logistically achieve things in office. As one anonymous city hall employee comically told Politicker last week, the only direction from above is to "be progressive," prompting the response: "WTF does that mean? What's the fire company going to do to be progressive?”


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