Sheldon Silver backs Bill de Blasio's tax-the-rich plan

New York City democratic mayoral nominee Bill de

New York City democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio speaks to the media during a rally to end healthcare inequality organized by the New York State Nurses Association in Manhattan. (Oct. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

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State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Friday that he supports mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio's tax-the-rich plan to fund universal prekindergarten.

The proposal, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) have indicated they do not favor, would require the approval of Albany.

"I'm not ready to call it DOA," Silver told reporters at a campaign event in Chinatown for fellow Democrat de Blasio.

Asked about the chances of de Blasio's proposal advancing, Silver said: "I think it's still premature to make a determination."

Silver suggested that de Blasio might have an easier time drumming up a "groundswell of support" after the Nov. 5 election, when he can try to pitch the plan to city stakeholders, such as members of the business community.

De Blasio wants to raise city income taxes -- to 4.41 percent from 3.876 percent -- on marginal annual income over $500,000. That means only income that exceeds $500,000 would be taxed at the higher rate. De Blasio forecasts that the hike -- a keystone of his campaign -- would raise $530 million in new revenue yearly.

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He maintains that universal pre-K is essential to helping narrow the city's growing income gap, what he calls the "Tale of Two Cities."

De Blasio's Republican rival, Joe Lhota, opposes tax increases. He says he'd fund the pre-K by trimming waste from the city's $70 billion budget.

Scott Reif, a Skelos spokesman, said the senator wants to decrease, not raise, taxes. Earlier this week, Cuomo said he also wants to lower taxes, though he'd let de Blasio make his case. Both he and the legislature are up for re-election next year.

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