New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon unveiled Wednesday an ambitious and expensive education plan packed with spending on programs long desired by progressives, including free college tuition for illegal immigrants.
The platform, which bears the pithy hashtag slogan #SchoolsNotJails, calls for spending $7.37 billion on a wide range of K-12 and higher education initiatives.
As part of that spending, Nixon’s “College For All” proposal would set aside $600 million for expanded access to the New York state and city university systems. It would provide free public college tuition to five times more students than a competing plan from incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York Post reported.
In a Wednesday morning tweetstorm heralding her plan, Nixon made clear that illegal immigrants would not be excluded from the additional spending. “Dreamers” — illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children — would be eligible for Nixon’s “College For All” initiative, she said.
Nixon has made education the centerpiece of a progressive agenda as she mounts a primary challenge to the two-term Cuomo from the left. The former “Sex and the City” actress has cast Cuomo as a pawn of corporate interests, accusing him of cutting spending on education to pay for tax cuts for New York’s wealthy.
Nixon’s plan is chock-a-block with spending to address the “devastating consequences” of inequity in New York’s educational system, she said. Among other programs, the plan includes $200 million for “community schools” that provide health and social services to students and parents alike.
It would also set up a $50 million “School Climate Fund” aimed at creating a less punitive disciplinary approach in schools with a history of high suspension and arrest rates.
In keeping with the #SchoolsNotJails theme, Nixon promised to bar federal immigration agents from entering any of New York’s public schools.
The New York City education department imposed a similar ban in May after immigration authorities entered a school to ask questions about students — though in that case, the officials were from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, not law enforcement officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We will end suspensions for children in grades Pre-K to 3, dramatically reduce suspensions for all students, and work to eliminate school-based arrests,” Nixon wrote on Twitter. “Neither will we will allow ICE into our schools to deport our students or their families.”
Nixon is proposing “millionaire’s tax” on personal income to help pay for her education budget. The tax hike, which actually starts at incomes of $300,000 or more, would raise $5.5 billion, according to the plan. Another $3.2 billion would come from increased corporate taxes, including a surcharge on corporate stock buybacks.
“We live in a very rich state. But it’s a rich state only in the aggregate,” the plan stated. “While there are a substantial number of enormously wealthy people, most New York families are middle class, working class or struggling to survive”
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