De Blasio wavers on future of high-earner tax

Bill de Blasio at a press round table at City Hall. (Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
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After pushing for a tax hike on the city's richest residents to fund universal pre-kindergarten for well over a year, Mayor Bill de Blasio raised doubts over whether he ever would return to that political fight in Albany.

"I never rule out anything, but I think the bottom line is right now we're focused on pursuing the agenda we have," he told reporters at a City Hall roundtable Tuesday afternoon.

Gone was his typical rhetoric about the need for the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay more--"the cost of a small soy latte," he often said.

Instead of bemoaning the demise of the tax hike, which was one of his signature campaign promises last year, de Blasio instead focused on the city receiving $300 million from the state to fund his pre-K expansion.

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He also said he is "confident" the money will be "consistent," although he has previously called any funding source other than the high-earner tax unreliable.

And the mayor said he would fight Albany if state leaders break their commitment to providing the city that amount each year for five years.

"We are going to go up each year and make sure that the commitment from Albany continues. I have every reason to believe it will and in that case the mission is completed," he said. "If that changes at any point, all options are on the table, meaning we would look for anything and everything that would get us the revenue that we need."

Governor Andrew Cuomo dismissed on the tax hike proposal but came through, eventually, with most of the money de Blasio had asked for. (The mayor requested $340 million a year for five years.)

Cuomo also is allowing the city to use its annual allotment of education funding from the state for de Blasio's after-school expansion, which the mayor said would cost $190 million a year.