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Mayor Proposes Doubling Size of After-School Program

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Mayor Bill de Blasio is heading up to Albany Tuesday for a critical day of lobbying on his pre-k and after-school tax hike plan, and though all signs indicate that he does not have much of a shot getting his signature policy initiative passed, he insists that momentum is on his side. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Before Mayor Bill de Blasio travels to Albany to pitch his tax hike proposal to state lawmakers face to face, he is trying to boost part of the plan that gets the least amount of attention: an expansion of the city's after-school programs for middle-school students.

"Parents know that their kids need more support, and they want a safe place for their kids to be, and there's a tremendous frustration among many parents that they can't find an affordable option for their kids after school that gives them that safety and that enrichment," de Blasio said.

The mayor said that he wants to double after-school programs for middle-school students so that they reach 120,000 children.

However, just like his universal pre-k plan, the issue is funding. The mayor is pushing a tax hike on wealthy New Yorkers to pay pre-k and after-school programs, and he needs Albany to sign off on it, which is proving difficult. So he is spending Tuesday in the state Capitol to make his case.

"There's a huge amount of public support," de Blasio said. "I think a huge amount of public support means something in Albany. I think that will win the day."

The mayor said that he hopes to meet with a number of legislative leaders, including Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Complicating things is the fact that the mayor is going to be competing for attention with Eva Moskowitz, the charter school leader who is heading to the state Capitol herself with students and parents to demand more support for charters.

The mayor has tried to portray Moskowitz as an enemy of his pre-k plan. In a letter to the mayor, though, she disputed the characterization, writing, "At a recent press conference, you stated that these parents would be going to Albany to 'march against pre-K.' That claim is utterly false and there is no basis for it."

The clock is ticking for de Blasio. If his tax hike proposal is not included in this year's state budget, which is due by the end of the month, he might have to wait another year to see it enacted.

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