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De Blasio: City Must Act On Education Reform

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Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio is doubling down on his plan to tax wealthy New Yorkers to pay for pre-kindergarten and after-school programs, making it clear Monday that he is not interested in funding the program through any other means. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is talking up his plan to tax New Yorkers who are making more than $500,000 per year.

"I'm convinced this is the best way to get this done," he said. "I think it's a fair way to get it done. I think it's an available way to get it done. I think it's a fast way to get it done."

The money would fund universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs for middle school students. It was the centerpiece of de Blasio's campaign, and as he nears his inauguration, he is starting to push more forcefully for its passage.

"I today stand before you ready to mount a strong and consistent fight for the things that will make a difference, and that means free, high-quality, full-day pre-k for every child in New York City. We need that now," he said.

De Blasio was speaking at a summit on children at Columbia University. His former boss, Mayor David Dinkins, was in the crowd. He suggested that de Blasio fund his plan with a suburban commuter tax instead. De Blasio dismissed the idea, as well as other suggestions that he look elsewhere for the funding.

"Records have been set just in the last few days indicating that those who are doing well, those who are wealthy are getting wealthier as we speak, which means that asking them to pay a little bit more...is not going to negatively impact the wealthy, it's not going to change their behavior. It will help a lot of kids in this city get full day pre-k and after-school," he said. "So this is the smartest, best way to get it done."

He said that he will soon be announcing the formation of an early education working group to lay the groundwork for these programs.

As for de Blasio's plans to staff his future administration, we did not hear much about them. The mayor-elect suggested that he has begun setting up interviews with potential candidates for schools chancellor, but he said that he will not have much to say about it for another few days.

Web Extra: Watch De Blasio's Full Speech


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