A diverse delegation heads to Albany
When Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito make their first lobbying trip to Albany on Monday, they'll be joined by more than a dozen City Council members, including some who previously opposed the new speaker, according to a list obtained from a Council source.
The mayor’s top priority is convincing state legislators to allow the city to raise taxes on high-income earners, to pay for expanded pre-K and after-school programs.
But the trip includes at least one member who opposes that proposal: Vincent Ignizio, a Republican, confirmed he will travel to Albany as part of the delegation, but said he still does not support de Blasio’s tax hike.
Ignizio was also among the members who opposed Mark-Viverito during a protracted campaign for speaker, and the trip indicates at least some willingness to set aside residual disagreements from the race.
“I’m going up as part of the delegation, but there are some things I disagree with them with,” he said in a brief interview. “New York City has to have a good relationship with Albany, and I thought it was important for them to see members of the minority and majority party together.”
Ignizio represents the South Shore of Staten Island, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy and is one of the areas at which state and federal recovery efforts are aimed.
Ignizio, a Republican, is also a former member of the Assembly, and could conceivably be helpful in the Council's dealings with Dean Skelos, the Republican who jointly controls the State Senate, along with Jeff Klein, the leader of the breakaway Independent Democratic Caucus.
Republicans have said they're opposed to raising taxes, but Klein has endorsed de Blasio's plan.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who would have to sign such a bill, unveiled his own plan this week to pay for expanded pre-kindergarten programs from the state budget, and has questioned the need for a tax increase.
A number of other Council members making the trip tomorrow are former members Assembly: Inez Barron, Vanessa Gibson, Rafael Espinal and Mark Weprin.
Here's the full list:
Jimmy Van Bramer — Majority Leader / Cultural Affairs Chairman
Vincent Ignizio — Minority Leader
Julissa Ferreras — Finance Chairwoman
Carlos Menchaca — Immigration Chairman
Vanessa Gibson — Public Safety Chairwoman
Vincent Gentile — Oversight & Investigations
Ritchie Torres — Public Housing Chairman
Stephen Levin — General Welfare Chairman
Inez Barron — Higher Education Chairwoman
Ydanis Rodriguez — Transportation Chairman
Rafael Espinal — Consumer Affairs Chairman
Danny Dromm — Education Chairman
Karen Koslowitz —State & Federal Legislation Chairwoman
Mark Weprin — Zoning & Franchise Chairman
I. Daneek Miller — Civil Service & Labor
Andy King — Member representing the Bronx
UPDATE: After publication, a spokesman for Miller said he too is traveling with the delegation.