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Alliance With Klein’s IDC Could Help De Blasio Fund Pre-K

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There is a large majority for Democrats in the State Assembly and a strong progressive voice in the New York City Council. That gives the Mayor-elect a solid hand when he makes his case in Albany, but de Blasio may have an ally in the leader of the state Senate’s breakaway conference, Jeff Klein. Zack Fink filed the following report.

State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx is part of a power sharing coalition in the state Senate with Republicans.

When it comes to supporting a tax on wealthier New Yorkers to fund pre-K and after school programs, Klein says he will be there to help shepherd it through the senate.

"I want this mayor to succeed because if I think if he is able to succeed, I think he is going to make New York affordable for all,” Klein said.

The new progressive mandate in the city is already putting pressure on Klein and a breakaway group of three other Democrats in the senate known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), to either rejoin the mainline party, or take a more active role in pushing a Democratic agenda.

"Coalitions that do not have the agenda of those that are working class and those that are needy and those that are not getting their fair share, that is not a coalition that is a co-option,” said Rev. Al Sharpton at a recent National Action Network meeting.

While there have been rumors that de Blasio would push for a primary challenge from the left against Klein, the mayor-elect acknowledges the history between them.

"It's a good relationship. I have known him for a long time and I very much appreciate his support on early childhood education and after school,” de Blasio said.

As for whether or not Republican senate leaders would agree to tax wealthy New York City residents, Klein said there is precedent for it.

"We've given localities around our state a lot of leeway to raise sales taxes, to raise taxes locally to pay for certain items, even in New York City,” Klein said.

An alliance between de Blasio and Klein could put pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has said he is looking for tax cuts this year.

"The mayor-elect suggests a tax increase and that's going to be a question for next year, how to fund universal pre-K," Cuomo said.

This is a critical re-election year, not only for the legislature, but for Governor Cuomo. Cuomo has to walk the line between keeping his base in New York City satisfied while also appealing to upstate voters, many of whom are unhappy with gun control legislation he pushed through the legislature earlier this year.

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