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Battle Lines Being Drawn For De Blasio-Cuomo Universal Pre-K Slugfest

NYC Mayor Wants To Tax Rich To Pay For It; Governor Wants To Cut Billions In Taxes

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo appear to be on a collision course when it comes to paying for universal pre-kindergarten.

The mayor wants to tax the wealthy, but the governor says not so fast, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported Friday.

The governor put pre-K in his budget proposal this week. This as the mayor continues to insist his way is the only way.

And now it appears the sniping is beginning, as allies of each have begun to speak out.

When it comes to universal pre-K, their visions are very similar.

“This year we propose universal full-day pre-K statewide, period,” Cuomo said recently.

“I put forward a vision to this city over the past year for full-day pre-K for every child in in this city, after-school for every middle school child,” de Blasio also said recently.

But how will it be paid for?

“It’s a five-year plan that has to be funded consistently for it to work,” de Blasio said.

“This budget includes a fully funded five-year plan that covers the additional cost of full-day pre-K across the state,” Cuomo said.

And there lies the battle: the governor says he can foot the bill, but the mayor wants to tax the rich to do it.

De Blasio insists he has a mandate and, essentially, the state should butt out.

“New York City should be given the right to make decisions for itself. It’s the case of self-determination or home rule, the people of New York City have spoken,” de Blasio said.

But former Cuomo aide Steven Cohen seemed to take shots at a de Blasio mandate in a column in City & State, insisting the election had a low turnout and “while it is clear that the city has embraced universal pre-K, it remains to be seen how universal the support of the mayor is.”

In the meantime the state will have final say on raising taxes.

“The Legislature and the governor are not going to do tax increases in a year when the Legislature and the governor are running for re-election,” Democratic political strategist Hank Sheinkopf said.

And if it comes to a battle between city and state, the governor will no doubt want to win.

“The governor gave the mayor everything he wants. It’s his way of saying ‘mayor, back off. I’m here to help you,’” Sheinkopf said.

De Blasio wants the tax on people making more $500,000 a year, but the governor wants a $2 billion cut in taxes.

This sets the stage for a battle — between liberals and centrists in the party.

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