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De Blasio: City On Track To Roll Out Universal Pre-K This Fall

Mayor Bill de Blasio hugs a child after reading a book to a prekindergarten class at P.S. 130 on Feb. 25, 2014. (credit: Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio hugs a child after reading a book to a prekindergarten class at P.S. 130 on Feb. 25, 2014. (credit: Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday the first steps to implement universal full-day pre-kindergarten are coming together.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, the mayor visited P.S. 130 in Chinatown on Tuesday afternoon to announce his administration has lined up all the classroom seats and then some to roll out universal pre-K this September.

The city has 8,000 more seats than it needs, Lamb reported.

De Blasio said Tuesday that schools and community-based groups have combined to come up with space to accommodate 29,000 new students.

That would allow him to meet his goal of 53,000 seats for this fall. Another 20,000 students would be accommodated the following year.

“These are actual schools and actual community-based organizations with actual detailed plans, many of which have strong pre-K history to build on. This is real, this is achievable, but this is something we cannot do without sustained, dedicated resources,” said the mayor.

The mayor repeated his message to Albany that the best way to fund it is with a small tax on New Yorkers who earn at least $500,000 a year. Any additional taxes would have to be passed by state lawmakers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has voiced his support for statewide universal pre-K but has proposed funding it through existing state revenues. The governor, who is up for re-election this year, said he does not want to raise taxes on anyone.

The state Legislature’s most powerful Democrat said de Blasio’s tax plan is not off the table as lawmakers negotiate a budget.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday that neither de Blasio’s plan nor Gov. Cuomo’s plan has been ruled out for the state budget due April 1.

The Senate’s Republican leader, Dean Skelos, appeared to shut the door this month on taking up a bill that would allow New York City to pay for pre-K with higher taxes on the wealthy. Silver says that stance was unacceptable.

Silver said he was open to different funding solutions.

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