Cuomo set to counter de Blasio on charters

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ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo may be preparing to big-foot New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on a second education issue: charter schools.

The move comes as advocates for charter schools and de Blasio's tax-the-rich plan for funding pre-K will face off with simultaneous rallies in Albany on Tuesday.

The New York Post reported Monday that Cuomo told Republican business leaders at a recent fund-raiser that he would back legislation to fund space for charters that get kicked out of New York City public buildings. Last week, de Blasio reversed three Bloomberg administration approvals for charter co-locations.

Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing partially confirmed the Post report in a statement: “The governor discussed his support for charter schools but there was no specific conversation about legislation.”

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Cuomo's office wouldn't comment on rumors that he plans to speak at a charter rally Tuesday.

Charters would represent the second education area in which Cuomo challenged de Blasio. The governor pre-empted de Blasio's plan for funding pre-K in the five boroughs with a statewide proposal to finance the program statewide through existing tax dollars. De Blasio said he "hopes" to meet with Cuomo when he's in town Tuesday for the pre-K rally.

Both the pre-K and charter stances are directed toward Republicans. Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who pronounced de Blasio's pre-K tax dead on arrival in Albany, told reporters Monday that charters should be a part of the education-funding conversation.

With Cuomo's re-election campaign effectively underway, he is exerting his power over the mayor while also combatting his likely Republican challenger Rob Astorino with positions that are popular among the GOP.

There's other evidence to support that Cuomo is planning to come out stronger for charters than he has in the past. Cuomo praised charter schools as “innovative” and “creative” during a radio interview last week, declaring that they are “healthy for education writ large.” And Cuomo sent his No. 2, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, to speak on behalf of the administration at a recent charter-school lobby day in Albany.