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De Blasio Rallies Supporters of Pre-K Plan

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Mayor Bill de Blasio's tax hike plan to pay for a universal pre-k program appears increasingly unlikely to pass through the legislature, but he and his supporters say they are forging ahead with their lobbying efforts all the same. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes that a private reception held at Gracie Mansion Wednesday will give his pre-k supporters some much-needed momentum for the weeks ahead.

The state budget deal is due by April 1, and the mayor wants it to include a tax hike on New Yorkers who make more than $500,000 a year to pay for universal pre-k in the city.

"The reality is is that programs for children and young people, in particular, child care and after school, are always the first ones on the chopping block," said Michelle Yanche of Good Shepherd Services.

The mayor did not speak to reporters at the event, but a copy of his prepared remarks make it clear that he is not giving up on his funding proposal, despite its long odds in Albany.

He was expected to tell the crowd, "The next four weeks will be critical to finishing the job. When we win, and we will win, you're the people who'll have made it happen."

Supporters of the mayor's plan do not need any convincing. It is Governor Andrew Cuomo who is proving to be the mayor's biggest obstacle. The governor says that he wants to use state funding to pay for a universal pre-k initiative statewide.

"We're grateful for the governor for really stepping into the conversation and saying, 'Hey, we're willing to do something.' It just hasn't gone far enough," said Jose Calderon of the Hispanic Federation. "We believe that we need universal pre-k, and this is a way of doing it."

Lorna Brett Howard, a Democratic activist who hosted a private pre-k lunch with First Lady Chirlane McCray, said that some of the attendees would have to pay the tax and are willing to.

"It was a great event," Howard said. "I had people there that would definitely be paying the tax, and once they understood what the program was and what it was offering, they understood that it was necessary and a good investment, a return on investment that you really can't get with most taxes."

The path to that tax hike, though, leads through Albany, and the state Capitol has a history of being unkind to the city's mayors.

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