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State Legislative Leaders Explore Other Options to Fund Pre-K

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Mayor de Blasio is steadfast on the need for a tax on wealthier New Yorkers to fund universal pre-K, but so far, Governor Andrew Cuomo has not committed, and legislative leaders are also exploring other options. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Although he didn't mention the mayor's plan for universal full day pre-kindergarten, Governor Andrew Cuomo did announce his commitment to the idea in his State of the State address.

"It's time for New York State to have universal full-day pre-k statewide," Cuomo said Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is very specific on how to pay for his plan. He wants state leaders to approve an income tax hike on wealthier New Yorkers.

Legislative leaders, though, don't appear eager to go that route.

"The governor has indicated, and certainly, I agree, that pre-k can be funded through the state budget," said state Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos. "If we're trying to send a message about cutting taxes and lowering taxes and making New York State affordable, I'd rather do it through the budget."

Even de Blasio's staunchest allies on this issue say that funding is just part of the equation.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says that 70 percent of New York's 4-year-olds are already in pre-k programs.

"We don't have enough facilities to accommodate all of them, and we don't have enough facilities to provide full-day universal pre-k, so we divide the facility and we have a morning session, an afternoon session," Silver said.

Cuomo is calling for $2 billion in bonding to upgrade school facilities and expand their capacity.

"Some of that money may very well go to the resources that we're talking about to make things available in that fashion," Silver said.

If bonding is the governor's plan to create the additional space in order to accommodate more children, that certainly would not happen on de Blasio's immediate timetable. The bonding would need to be approved by the legislature, then go to voters in a referendum, before construction could even begin. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP