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De Blasio Throws Out First Pitch at Citi Field, Looks Forward to Pre-K 'Opening Day'

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After declaring victory to celebrate state funding for universal pre-k, Mayor Bill de Blasio took a bit of a beating at Citi Field, where he threw out the first pitch for the Mets on Opening Day. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

He's hardly the first mayor to be booed at a ball park, but Mayor Bill de Blasio, a loyal Red Sox fan, can't have been too surprised by the reception, although before the pitch, he seemed to be hoping for something a little more muted.

"I think everyone's going to be too cold to respond. But whatever it is, it is," he said. "I'm a sports fan. I think sports fans have a right to express themselves any way they want."

The mayor said that he was honored to attend Opening Day, but there's another opening day that he said he's eagerly anticipating even more.

"The opening day I'm really looking forward to is the opening day of school in September, because that's the day when tens of thousands more kids are going to have full-day pre-K," he said. "And it's going to be a game-changer for those kids."

The state budget deal gives the mayor $300 million dollars a year during the next five years to create universal pre-K in New York City. The money is not from a tax hike on wealthy New Yorkers, which the mayor fought for, but he's arguing that it's a clear win nonetheless.

"What I've said many, many times is, we needed reliable funding for five years at the dollar figure we had set," he said. "What have we gotten? Reliable funding for five years at the dollar figure we set."

In fact, the mayor made it clear repeatedly that he was not interested in expanding pre-kindergarten if it was not paid for with a tax hike. At one point, he even went so far as to say that he did not want funding set aside for pre-K in the state budget.

"If there's other resources available in Albany, I assure you we have plenty of other needs for them," the mayor said on January 6.

The mayor had also been fighting for funding for after-school programs for middle-school students. It was not immediately clear how much money the city would get for that.

"We feel that we'll do very well," de Blasio said.

Now comes the real test for de Blasio: getting universal pre-K up and running in New York City.

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