De Blasio came to Albany to highlight his proposal to hike taxes on wealthy New Yorkers to fund universal pre-kindergarten and expanded after-school programs for middle schoolers. Even as de Blasio spoke to a few hundred people at an Albany armory, Cuomo spoke to what amounted to a dueling rally of more than 3,000 students and parents on the Capitol steps.
The protest organized by well-financed charter school advocates came after de Blasio reversed a decision by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to give three charter schools rent-free space in public school buildings. While making no specific promises, Cuomo appeared at odds with de Blasio on charter schools.
"I am committed to ensuring charter schools have the financial capacity, the physical space and the government support to thrive and to grow," Cuomo told the cheering crowd.
De Blasio has run into roadblock after roadblock at the state Capitol. He needs the approval of the state Legislature to raise taxes but many of Albany's powerbrokers have given no sign they are willing to do so in an election year.
Cuomo has proposed that pre-kindergarten instead be funded through the state budget, while arguing that giving New York City the ability to tax its millionaires creates inequality for other communities in the state which don't have the same affluent tax base.
With less than a month before the April 1 budget deadline for Cuomo and lawmakers, de Blasio made his fourth trip to Albany since taking office two months ago, arguing that city residents demand a dedicated, five-year revenue stream to fund pre-kindergarten. He says that can only be guaranteed through the tax hike.
"We want to build their future, we want to open doors for them, and what you're doing today is part of that," de Blasio told the pre-K rally. "We need one more push to get there. Everyone in this room knows what full day pre-K would mean for our families."
Cuomo and de Blasio were scheduled to meet Tuesday after the dueling rallies. De Blasio also was meeting with key lawmakers.
Despite frequently describing themselves as longtime friends, neither Cuomo nor de Blasio has publically suggested much of a willingness to compromise.
De Blasio, long a skeptic of charter schools, did allow 14 other charter schools to keep the space given to them by Bloomberg. The three that lost their space all are part of the Success Academy Charter School system, led by de Blasio's longtime political rival Eva Moskowitz.
Moskowitz instructed her 22 schools to close Tuesday so students can join the protest. Several dozen other schools have joined Success Academy in a coalition that has unveiled a multi-million dollar ad campaign to object to de Blasio's decision.