Another city pol is auditioning to be the next mayor while Bill de Blasio is out-of-town kicking off his pipe-dream presidential bid.
Comptroller Scott Stringer – who is also planning a 2021 mayoral run – rolled out a plan to expand affordable childcare for city families with kids three-years old and under that would be funded by taxing wealthy business owners.
The plan – which Stringer said would be the nation’s “the single-largest local investment in childcare” — has striking similarities to de Blasio’s universal pre-K program that was a key part of Hizzoner’s successful 2013 campaign.
De Blasio initially hoped to fund that program by taxing wealthy New Yorkers earning over $500,000, but had to find other alternatives after being rejected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers.
“A lot of the inspiration for what is now possible is because of pre-K and what the city was able to accomplish,” said Stringer while announcing his “NYC Under 3” proposal at the Henry Street Settlement in Lower Manhattan.
The plan would require the state Legislature to give its blessing for the city raise funds by taxing businesses with annual payrolls of at least $2.5 million.
Stringer estimates program costs at $658 million annually by year six and that the initiative would triple the number of kids in city-backed childcare to 84,000 annually.
Families of four earning $25,750 and under would qualify for free childcare while those earning up to $103,000 would qualify for at least some assistance based on a sliding scale. Yearly taxes on affected businesses would average out $100 per employee.
Stringer said he plans to lobby both the mayor and Albany pols to get this done, and even joked that he planned to fly off to Iowa, which is where de Blasio was Friday campaigning for president.
His announcement came a day after Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a rival 2021 mayoral contender, also held a press conference with de Blasio leaving town to pitch a plan to make the criminal justice system “fairer” for all New Yorkers.
Like the speaker, Stringer said his event was strictly about his “day job” – and not a mayoral campaign event.
“I already run an office of 750 people with a $100 million budget … ,” said Stringer.
“Elected officials come and go, and offices come and go, and there’s always a time to focus on that.
“But right now, we’re going to focus on … doing the people’s business as best we can, and we will continue to push our issues every single day — whether the mayor is in Iowa or Florida …We have to do our job. That is what this is all about. Nothing else.”
Despite Stringer’s claim his event wasn’t politically motivated, the comptroller unexpectedly wound up scoring his first endorsement in the mayoral race.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), who is sponsoring legislation in Albany to fund Stringer’s plan, walked over to a Post reporter after the press conference ended to say Stringer “will make a great mayor” and that she is backing him.