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

During the Democratic mayoral primary, 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.

“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.

Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino told reporters 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 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.

As New York Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported this morning, Savino has warmed to the idea — and is now defending de Blasio’s plan. 

Responding to an unsolicited suggestion from former Mayor David Dinkins for de Blasio to reconsider his plan, Savino took to her Facebook page:

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.

The change in tone represents the unifying power of post-election politics, but it is especially noticeable after this year’s election cycle, which pitted usual allies and colleagues in the same party against one another. The primary campaign was months-long and featured a series of bruising attacks and counterattacks between the campaigns.

Much of those were attacks were focused on de Blasio’s tax plan, especially after he took the lead in polling in late August.

Joining Weingarten in Thompson’s campaign were United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, both of whom also expressed some skepticism about de Blasio’s plan in August. 

Weingarten did not immediately respond to a question if she felt more optimistic that the plan would pass. 

Mulgrew has spoken more hopefully — though still guarded — about the pre-K tax.  

“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.