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Democrats change tone on de Blasio pre-K tax following victory

During the Democratic mayoral primary just a few months ago, Bill Thompson supporters were on an all-out crusade to discredit rival Bill de Blasio’s tax plan to fund expanded pre-Kindergarten. As the race heated up in late August, Thompson’s campaign even began dispensing elected officials and union leaders to join in the skepticism.

But now that de Blasio has won the election, calling the victory a mandate from voters to follow through on his campaign tax pledge, those officials are backing off a bit.

Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino told reporters in August that de Blasio was either ignorant or pandering if he thought higher taxes were the right way to fund pre-K.

“We have enough money,” Savino said in August. “What we don’t have is flexibility in the state’s regulations about how we spend the money we already get.”

But, as New York Daily News’ Ken Lovett first reported this morning, Savino seems to have warmed to the idea since de Blasio was elected.

Responding more recently to an unsolicited suggestion that de Blasio reconsider his plan, Savino took to her Facebook page to defend it:

with all due respect to the all the advice givers, the DeBlasio plan is the better one for the city. it is not in the interest of any new program to constantly be dependent on Albany.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, all of whom endorsed Thompson in the primary, also expressed some skepticism about de Blasio’s plan in August.

“We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize,” Weingarten told reporters in August, calling Thompson “a doer” and de Blasio an idealist.

Weingarten did not immediately respond to a question seeking a comment on whether she was more optimistic that the plan would pass.

Just moments after the UFT endorsed de Blasio in September, following Thompson’s concession, Mulgrew shared a more hopeful — though still guarded — outlook than he had previously expressed during the primary campaign:

“We’ve been hearing about all day pre-K for 40 years and no one’s figured it out and he is saying he is completely committed to getting it done,” Mulgrew said.