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Allegiances to Mayor, Governor Being Tested in Pre-K Proposals

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With two competing proposals on how to fund full-day pre-kindergarten, Democrats in the State Assembly find themselves in a difficult position, and allegiances to the mayor and the governor are being tested. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

ALBANY - It might have been Dean Skelos, the Republican leader in the state Senate, who said it best.

"There is a schism within the Democrat Party," Skelos said.

That schism is a vast disagreement between the mayor and the governor over how to fund universal pre-k.

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants a tax on the wealthy.

"The people of New York City have spoken," de Blasio said. "It's up to Albany to respect the rights of the people of this city and let us do what we need to do for our future."

Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined his plan Tuesday to achieve the same goal, but with state funding and no tax.

"There has to be an additional source of revenue for New York City," said Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn. "It's not enough for the state dollars."

Most of the Assembly Democrats say publicly that they support the mayor in this tricky fight.

"What we're really talking about is whether or not the city of New York should be given the right to tax those folks that are making a half a million dollars or more," said Assemblyman Keith Wright of Manhattan. "I happen to think that there's nothing particularly wrong with giving the city the right to tax."

"The objective and the purpose of Mr. de Blasio is to ensure that not only he has money that will come one time, but will be there for the out years," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn.

Privately, some concede that the tax is a longshot. Last week, sources say Cuomo called members of the black and Latino caucus to his office and told them he'd find the money, and not to make waves over the tax.

"The tax is going to be a very difficult road for folks in Albany," said Assemblyman Nick Perry of Brooklyn. "The Senate is not going to welcome it. They don't like taxes at all."

Some Democrats say that the solution may be for the Assembly to pass what's known as one-house bill that never goes anywhere in the Senate. Then, everyone can embrace the governor's plan as a compromise.

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