Thursday, April 17, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Pre-K Clash of the Titans

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"You can't always get what you want -- but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need." – The Rolling Stones

With Gov. Cuomo proposing to pay for universal pre-K across the state, Mayor de Blasio is digging in his heels on his plan for a tax hike on the city's wealthiest residents. Why won't the mayor – in the words of NY1's Errol Louis – take "yes" for an answer?

Regardless of pre-K, it's become increasingly clear that the tax increase is something that de Blasio wants to push through – even if the governor discovers a magical pot of gold at the end of Albany's rainbow. So if pre-K is fully funded by the state and the mayor still wants a tax hike, what's the money really for?

NY1's Grace Rauh noted yesterday: "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."

Rallying voters over pre-K is one thing but getting people charged up over giving Sanitation workers a raise is harder. De Blasio yesterday tried to wear the mantle of a mandate by saying that the pre-K tax "was the No. 1 proposal I put forward in an election that I won with 73 percent of the vote."

But with the pre-K tax now just looking like a tax, de Blasio needs to be careful. Sure, he got 73 percent of the vote – but only about a quarter of registered voters actually cast their ballots last November. While trying to close the income gap is a laudable goal, de Blasio needs to remember that most New Yorkers first care about their day-to-day needs like plowing the streets and keeping them safe. How it's paid for is a secondary matter. In an election year for the governor, the mayor may have to pick a different fight.

Bob Hardt

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