- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The state Senate’s leaders on Monday emphasized that, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, they are split over funding universal pre-kindergarten with increased income taxes on the city’s wealthy.

Republican Sen. Dean Skelos, co-leader of the Senate’s majority coalition, sided with Cuomo against the tax. Democratic Sen. Jeff Klein, the coalition’s other co-leader, backed de Blasio.

Skelos, who leads the 29-member Republican Conference, said the governor has indicated they can pay for pre-K without raising taxes and “the last thing” New York needs is to have its high earners leave.

Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference, responded that he won’t approve a budget “that fails to realize the vision” he and de Blasio share for high-quality pre-K. He said the mayor’s plan is the only one that provides the money the city needs.

Both have to approve the Senate’s so-called active list of bills to move them to the Senate floor for a vote.

Skelos said Monday that he doesn’t think he would let a bill to create the tax go to the floor.

With current Senate divisions, a vote on the measure if it came to the floor would appear to be close.

The 25-member Senate Democratic Conference also supports de Blasio’s plan. Conference leader Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins said it is “unfortunate that a minority of senators are allowed to block an issue of such importance to the largest city in New York State.” She said she hoped they would allow a vote.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who heads that chamber’s large Democratic majority, has come out in support of de Blasio’s tax proposal.

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