Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed conditional acceptance Wednesday of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan for state funding — and stepped-up oversight — to confront the homelessness crisis, but signaled potential resistance to shifting more Medicaid and CUNY costs to the city.
“It’s a very positive sign, obviously, to see these resources put on the table for New York City,” de Blasio told reporters in Albany after Cuomo’s State of the State speech. “It’s the kind of thing I look forward to working with the governor on.”
De Blasio’s cautiously worded approval marked a muting, at least for the day, of the long-running feud between the two Democrats. Before the speech, Cuomo and de Blasio met for what the mayor called a “productive” 30-minute talk on policy.
The mayor added caveats with his compliments.
On the governor’s $20 billion, five-year housing plan, de Blasio said, “I want to see all the details, and I want to understand the timelines and how it’s all going to play out.” He added, “It certainly appears on first blush that there are some new additional resources for the day-to-day work we do to help the homeless.”
The governor in his speech, which the mayor viewed from the third row, offered a brief hat tip to de Blasio for his “cooperation” in addressing shelter conditions — a shift in tone. Cuomo had repeatedly blasted shelters as “disgusting” and dangerous, and his spokeswoman in November said de Blasio “can’t manage” the city’s homeless problem.
But Cuomo also announced that he was assigning City Comptroller Scott Stringer — a potential 2017 challenger to de Blasio and a frequent critic — to review city shelters, and said the state was ready to provide “additional personnel” for the task.
Stringer in a statement indicated he would be carrying on with work already being performed to “audit and investigate” shelters. De Blasio said his Department of Investigation was already on the case, and “if the audit is complimentary to that effort, that’s perfectly acceptable.”
De Blasio appeared worried that the governor’s budget proposal seemed to shift a greater burden to the city for funding Medicaid and the City University of New York, but he withheld outright criticism as “premature.”
“If something actually is going to undercut our ability to provide health care to our people or to support our students, I’m not only to speak up, but work hard to address it,” the mayor said.
The mayor voiced tempered gratitude for Cuomo’s endorsement of three-year extension of mayoral control of schools, though he wants more. “I appreciate that the governor put forward a specific number,” the mayor said.
The governor also backed three years at the start of the last legislative session, but de Blasio ended up with only one year. Cuomo said then that de Blasio could come back to request more “if he does a good job.”