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De Blasio Presses On With Pre-K Pledge

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Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is pressing ahead on his key campaign pledge of expanding pre-kindergarten to all eligible city children, but election-year timing may make a deal with the state legislature more difficult than he had hoped. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio sees grown-up symbolism in the kid's favorite "Where the Wild things Are."

"This dragon, that represents the fiscal challenges we face," he said.

Even more frightful may be getting the state legislature to approve higher taxes on the city's wealthiest.

De Blasio wants the money to pay for pre-kindergarten for everyone, not the piecemeal now. He says that the city enrolls only about 30 percent of eligible kids.

New schools would have to come from re-prioritizing other building projects.

He sees teacher salaries coming from a tax hike, which, under a quirk of state law, requires approval from Albany lawmakers, even though only city residents are affected.

De Blasio says that a state poll shows widespread approval. However, it's not voters he has to convince, but their representatives and their governor, all at a delicate time.

De Blasio set an ambitious deadline for Albany to act: the spring of next year. That's precisely when Cuomo is expected to ramp up his bid for re-election.

Cuomo said he's all for expanded pre-k, but added, "The second question is how do we pay for it, and that we'll have to figure out."

There may be deal-making ahead, although de Blasio isn't talking of it now. He instead sees this happening, citing his commanding victory last month and flexing his new political muscle.

"I think there's a lot of people in the political process who have recognized that when you don't heed the will of the people, there are consequences," he said.

He's so confident that after the kids left the rug, the mayor-elect ushered in a new task force charged with finding the space and the teachers.

"Bill de Blasio's election is a moment for us to help tens of thousands of children in a fundamental way," said Elba Montalvo of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families.

If it happens, there is no doubt that many parents will be pleased. You could expect something of a wild rumpus at City Hall, too.

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