ALBANY, N.Y. -- After suggesting on Monday that he may hold up the state budget unless Republicans allow a vote on Mayor de Blasio's pre-K plan, Senate Co-leader Jeff Klein appeared to backtrack on Tuesday.
"Well, I don't think we are holding up the budget over UPK. What we've seen is we have raised the dialogue to a level that I think is very important. Everyone in New York State now wants to do universal pre-K," Klein said.
Mayor de Blasio said the tax on the wealthy is necessary to fund the program in the city.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to avoid a tax and use state funds for a statewide program.
Klein left the door open to either approach.
"It's up to us to either come up with the money or adopt the mayor's plan," Klein said.
"The real problem comes down to the fact that we have no leadership in this senate. Both Senator Klein and Senator [Dean] Skelos who each have a veto power. We have a minority of conservative Republicans in the State Senate who are allowed to stop anything progressive from happening even when the votes are there to achieve it," said state Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens.
On Monday, the mayor laid out his vision for the city. But some of those ideas require Albany approval. Not only the tax for universal pre-K, but a proposal that would allow New York City and other municipalities to raise their minimum wage without state approval.
"We all know New York City is much more expensive than Plattsburgh. We understand that what happens in Brooklyn is different than what happens in buffalo," said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
Cuomo shot down the idea in a radio interview.
"This would be a chaotic situation. So the balance is very important. And that's what the constitution tries to establish. The balance," he said.
Former City Council Member Oliver Koppel issued a statement calling Klein's arrangement with Skelos a backroom deal. He also pointed out that he lives in Klein's district, which some interpreted as threatening to challenge Klein in a primary.