20 Members From All 5 Boroughs Go to Capital To Stand Up For NYC’s Budget Priorities

Albany, NY – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was joined by 19 of her colleagues today to visit Albany to fight for New York City and advocate for its priorities in the state budget. Joining Speaker Viverito were Councilmembers; Rose, Barron, Dromm, Espinal, Gentile, Levin, Gibson, Van Bramer, Koslowitz, Torres, Weprin, Ferreras, Menchaca, Vacca, King, Miller, Richards, Rodriguez and Minority Leader Ignizio.

Speaker Mark-Viverito said: “This City Council is united towards our common purpose, standing up and fighting for New York City. The broad and diverse group of Councilmembers who came to Albany today represents all five boroughs and they let legislators and leaders in Albany know that the City Council is working together to make sure New York City’s voice is heard loud and clear. I was honored to make the visit with my colleagues today and look forward to working with them as we keep advocating for New York City.”

“One of the founding tenets of this country is “no taxation without representation,” said Council Member Inez Barron. “Yet Governor Cuomo is single-handedly denying representation to 6 downstate communities of Black and Latino residents by not allowing for their vacant Assembly and Senate seats to be filled. These black and Latino communities do not have a seat at the table or a voice in the negotiations. The governor has been quoted as saying that he must weigh the cost of the elections against the rights of the people. While our communities are facing drastic cuts to health care; while the State government has not abided by the financial settlements due to New York City regarding the Campaign for Fiscal Equity; while black and Latino children but denied that there share of state funds, Gov. Cuomo has decided to impose taxes on 11 communities, without the benefit of representation in the budget making process, nor receive services at their local district offices. We demand that we have representation. Call a special election now, so that we can be at the negotiating table during this budget process.”

“New York City needs a dedicated source of funding for universal prekindergarten,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “Mayor de Blasio has outlined a successful approach on how to secure that funding and I stand firmly committed to his goals. Study after study has shown that children who receive early childhood education perform demonstrably better later in life than those who don’t receive it. It’s right to ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share of tax dollars. The Mayor’s plan will help create a better, stronger New York City for generations to come.”

“I am looking forward to discussing important programs such as universal Pre-K and the summer youth employment program as the City Council prepares for Fiscal Year 2015. As a former Assembly Member, I am looking forward to making my first trip to Albany a venue to advocate on behalf of New York City’s interests,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal.

“As the newly appointed Finance Chair, I am looking forward to joining Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in local government to engage Albany legislators in a lively discussion about Universal Pre-kindergarten,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “Early childhood education is not only crucial to overcoming the barriers of poverty, but it is also particularly important to closing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for laying out a clear tax plan to generate resources for a full and secure investment in both universal pre-k and after-school programs. It is my hope that the advocacy efforts my colleagues and I set forth today will resonate with Albany so that our great City may have the authority to raise its own taxes to pay for this critical expansion.”

“I am pleased to join Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues on our maiden voyage as a delegation to Albany. I spent many years in the Capital as a member of the New York State Senate and look forward to ensuring New York City gets its fair share from Albany,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile.

“Today has been a truly important opportunity for many of our partners in city government – led by Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito – to voice our strong support for a bold investment agenda that makes a clear commitment to the educational needs of our young people, addresses New York’s affordable housing crisis, and provides the services that working families and seniors throughout New York City need, want and deserve,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Today’s testimony by our Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, signifies the City Council’s commitment to improve the future of New York by securing the funding that will allow our next generation of leaders, OUR CHILDREN, options in life as they build their foundation in their early developmental years. I thank Speaker Mark-Viverito for her leadership on this issue,” said Council Member Andy King.

Council Member Steve Levin said, “It is imperative that we do everything within our power to guarantee that the children of New York City are given every opportunity to succeed throughout their lives. By instituting a modest tax increase on high-earners in New York City, we can provide universal pre-kindergarten that will help to close the achievement gap and improve the education of all students in our city. Universal pre-kindergarten is an essential investment in our children’s future and I give it my enthusiastic support.”

“New York City voters spoke loud and clear in this most recent election with resounding support for a progressive agenda that empowers all New Yorkers, regardless of income, country of origin, or age. I am proud to join our Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and NY City Council colleagues in Albany to advocate for reforms to the Governor’s Executive Budget that truly reflect our collective priorities,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “As a child who graduated from the Headstart, I know the value it has on immigrant families. It was in my preschool program that I first learned how to speak English. This is the value it brings to thousands of families. We want to make sure that the City can control its own fate when it comes to Universal Pre-K and after school programs. These programs are critical for New York’s hard working families and immigrant communities, and our City’s youth cannot afford to rely on State proposals that would not fully fund these programs for years. We must make sure that State-funding supports programs that work for all New Yorkers, like providing long-term rental subsidies that will help homeless families transition out of shelter.”

“Making this trip to Albany happen was a priority. It was a priority because furthering discussions on pre-K, as well as with programs based on health care, affordable housing and job creation are paramount. Moving forward this is how we create a more equitable environment for those in and around New York City,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller.

“Today’s trek to the North Pole, also known as Albany, with Speaker Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in government, truly signifies how critical it is that we ensure Universal Pre-K becomes a reality for all of our children,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “It is due time that high income earners pay their fair share, and I fully support the Mayor and Speaker in ensuring that there is dedicated funding in place as we invest in our youth.”

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, “We stand united by a belief that universal pre-k must be a priority for New York City and that our state representatives should recognize the need for a stable funding stream built around our mayor’s proposal for a modest tax on the highest income earners in the city. This is something that a majority of New Yorkers stand behind and we are carrying out their directives in lobbying our state legislature.”

“I will be traveling to Albany with the Speaker and my colleagues in City Council to put my full support behind the Mayor’s proposal for universal pre-kindergarten and to advocate for State allocations toward New York City’s public housing. As a councilmember from the Bronx, the borough with the highest rate of child poverty in the city, where nearly 45 percent of children and 30 percent of all residents struggle to meet basic needs, I know firsthand the difference that access to quality education can make. I will also request that the State contribute to the operating costs for NYCHA developments it financed with the City. NYCHA’s considerable structural deficit and limited resources directly impact the quality of services it’s able to provide for low-income New Yorkers,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“I’m very proud to join Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my fellow Council Members in Albany to fight for what New York City residents need, such as the Mayor’s universal pre-K plan and the installation of more speed cameras,” said Council Member James Vacca. “Establishing universal pre-K and afterschool programs for our middle school youngsters has long been a priority of mine, and with our new Mayor, we finally have the opportunity to make them a reality. We must also insist Albany give us the authority to install speed cameras as we see fit to address speeding and pedestrian safety in our city. I am a strong advocate for Vision Zero, but we need to be in charge of our own streets to realize our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities. Lastly, I fully support Governor Cuomo’s plan to construct four new Metro North stations in the Bronx and thank him for securing the funds for the project, which will go a long way towards improving the commutes of residents in transportation-starved communities like the East Bronx,” said Council Member James Vacca, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Committee on Technology.

“Our children must be our top priority,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Majority Leader of the New York City Council. “By providing over 70,000 children with quality, full-day pre-kindergarten we will begin the process of reducing income inequality countless New Yorkers have faced for generations. It is obvious to see that there is a growing coalition of labor unions, elected officials as well as parents who believe this is an important issue that must be addressed immediately. Together, along with my colleagues in the New York City Council and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, we call on Albany to enact Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten proposal which stands to improve the lives of tens of thousands of low-wage and middle-class New Yorkers. Now is the time to begin the process of altering the course of history for hundreds of thousands of families and setting our children’s course on a path toward success.”

“I am delighted to return to Albany with my colleagues to advocate for much needed educational services for the people of the City of New York,” said Council Member Mark Weprin.