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Who needs universal pre-K classes?
Apparently not State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), the powerful lawmaker who's been touting government-funded pre-kindergarten since 1996.
“I didn’t have the benefit of pre-K when I was growing up, but somehow I succeeded — I think,” Silver deadpanned.
“I think you did,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, standing with the speaker in the Chinatown portion of Silver's district to unveil a $300,000 campaign to encourage every 4-year-old's family to apply for a pre-K slot.
The press conference -- inside the gymnasium of P.S. 1 on Henry Street — was just up the street from where Silver's alma mater once stood, the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, and near the five-story walkup where he grew up.
The campaign’s $300,000 comes from the existing Department of Education budget for outreach, and include ads on bus shelters, subways, buses, public-service announcements, robocalls to families in public housing — and a recording on the city’s 311 system by the first lady, Chirlane McCray.
Silver helped secure $300 million in the state budget for pre-K -- de Blasio's signature issue in last year's mayoral race. De Blasio had sought to fund the program by taxing income over $500,000 but that was nixed at the Capitol.
Asked whether he thinks it's possible to revisit the tax issue next year -- when the governor and legislature aren't up for re-election as they are in 2014 -- Silver deflected.
“Right now, it’s an election year,” he said to laughs. “People don't think beyond that.”