BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Senator Brad Hoylman stopped by the Jacob Riis Early Childhood Learning Center in the East Village on Monday as part of a tour of the city’s daycare centers.
After briefly playing with toddlers, both elected officials held a mini-round table discussion with parents and childcare workers — at a toddler-sized table with copies of the Comptroller’s NYC Under 3 plan fanned across it.
“We think it’s a game changer,” said Stringer. “I always say, [Mayor] Bill de Blasio, job well done, but now we have to take it to the next level.”
De Blasio made universal pre-K central to his 2013 campaign, and he Pre-K for All initiative in 2014, the first year of his administration. About 70,000 children are now enrolled in universal pre-K, according to The New York Times. That led to a second phase launched in 2017, including pre-K for three year olds.
Even though Stringer has not official announced plans to run for mayor in 2021, he has been fundraising for a 2021 campaign since 2018, The New York Times reported.
“I’m building a political foundation for whatever comes next,” Stringer told the Times. “I love public service. I want to continue serving this city. Part of that is building the financial infrastructure to be competitive in 2021.”
NYC Under 3, which Stringer proposed in May, is an effort to expand affordable childcare to families with young children up to age three. In the plan, families of four that make less than $25,750 a year would qualify for free childcare. Families making up to $103,000 would be able to have some of their childcare costs covered based on a sliding scale.
Last week, Queens state Senator Jessica Ramos introduced legislation that would implement a payroll tax of .015 percent for businesses with payrolls between $625,000 and $1.25 million, according to The New York Post. For businesses with payrolls about $1.25 million but less than $ 2.5 million would be taxed at .018. Businesses with payrolls over $2.5 million would be taxed at .022 percent. The tax would raise $626 million for the program
During the tour, the comptroller emphasized that the plan was not only beneficial for the New York city’s children but also for the parents, the economy, as it would allow for 20,000 people, mostly women, to re-enter the workforce, and childcare providers.
“We entrust you (childcare workers) with the most precious thing that we have, which is our children and we take our children back but we never ask you how are you doing,” said Stringer during the Sept. 23 round table. “And the truth is a lot of childcare workers are not doing well, they can’t pay the rent, can’t pay the bills, can’t take care of their own kids.”
According to the report, the program will take six years to implement. Within the first five years, $500 million will be dedicated to the construction and renovation of childcare facilities. The plan also calls for offering start-up and expansion grants to child care providers “to add seats” for children.
At year six, the total annual cost would be $660 million, it was reported.