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De Blasio Refuses to Back Down from Plan to Fund Pre-K With Tax on Wealthy

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Despite Governor Andrew Cuomo's pre-k announcement Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is refusing to back down from his plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten with a tax on wealthy New Yorkers, and he even seems more committed to the tax hike than to getting pre-k classes for the city's 4-year-olds. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is stealing Mayor Bill de Blasio's thunder when it comes to the issue of pre-kindergarten.

The mayor promised to fight for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to pay for an expansion of early education in the five boroughs, but Cuomo seems determined to swoop in and enact the popular proposal himself, using state funding, and the fact that he did not mention the mayor during his speech shows he's likely not interested in sharing any credit.

The mayor, though, says he is sticking with his plan. He has made it clear that he is not interested in expanding public pre-kindergarten if it is not paid for with a tax hike.

"I have a mission. The people of this city have given me a mission. They have entrusted me with a mission to achieve this plan," de Blasio said. "I have a mandate from the people to pursue this plan. I'm going to pursue this plan. And of course, we'll be respectful and communicative, but this is the plan that will work for the people of the city."

De Blasio wants to tax New Yorkers who make more than $500,000 a year to pay for pre-k and after-school programs. He is arguing that the tax funding is better than money from the state budget because it would not be subject to budget cuts.

"The people believe in this idea," de Blasio said. "They want it, and they want it to actually happen, which means the funding source has to be reliable. "

Albany lawmakers would have to approve the tax hike plan.

There is growing speculation that the new mayor is insisting on the tax hike because he wants the money to help cover retroactive pay raises for city workers with expired contracts.

De Blasio said that New Yorkers can expect a formal report on the city's pre-k program in a matter of days. He said that the report will explain how the city will get its pre-k classes up and running so that the maximum number of students are enrolled in the fall.

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