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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

De Blasio settles for pre-K peace with honor

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces preparations to recruit

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces preparations to recruit and train teachers as part of the expansion of full-day pre-kindergarten at press conference at City Hall, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Credit: Bryan Smith

To those who see governance as a game, with winners and losers, New York State always beats New York City. By law, governors and state legislators rule key areas, from taxes to regulation.

So it should shock nobody that Mayor Bill de Blasio conducted a long news conference at City Hall Tuesday about pre-K without repeating his year-old call for an income tax surcharge on the rich.

Asked about funding, he said: "We're confident that this is going to end well."

With a state budget due early next week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo "has made it very clear that he's focused on pre-K," de Blasio said. "Really, the most essential acts were the Assembly and Senate in different ways affirming the same exact goal."

He described preparations "so that we're ready when the funding is approved in Albany."

Missing were the mayor's familiar warnings that in the absence of his tax plan, resisted by Cuomo and the GOP-dominated state Senate, sustained funding seemed less than assured.

For de Blasio, this anticipation of a kind of peace with honor on pre-K comes amid murkier outcomes in other city-state scrapes.

On Monday, de Blasio aides were talking about lobbying for permission to use state funds for rental subsidies for the homeless -- yet Cuomo indicated it was too late to do so this year.

The day before, at Riverside Church, de Blasio took himself off a rhetorical collision course with charter schools -- after Cuomo and key lawmakers defended charters' use of public-school space.

Even the future of state-university-run Long Island College Hospital, a source of city-state tension, remains clouded one month after Cuomo and de Blasio touted an agreement on how to proceed in bidding out its Brooklyn property.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, too, found Albany a minefield. He was denied a big tax request in his first term -- a revival of the suburban-commuter tax -- but came away with other budget relief in the form of a state assumption of some long-term city debt. Bloomberg claimed victory, but was later defeated on other projects that called for Albany approval.

Gov. Hugh Carey put a political target on Mayor Abraham Beame amid the 1970s fiscal crisis. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller dissed Mayor John Lindsay. Mayor Ed Koch was cut down a notch when Mario Cuomo bested him in a primary for governor.

Current Gov. Cuomo wants big city vote numbers in November to offset presumably weaker support upstate. He endorsed de Blasio post-primary last year; it would be a real surprise if de Blasio doesn't reciprocate.

But some de Blasio allies to Cuomo's left sound less than enthused about the governor's re-election effort.

In that vein, Cuomo met privately Monday with leaders of unions often associated with the Working Families Party -- which has strong ties to de Blasio but differs with Cuomo on charter schools and tax policies.

A Cuomo official told Newsday's Yancey Roy, "It was a discussion about the state budget and issues that were pending around the budget."

Some of the unions, such as 1199/SEIU and the Communications Workers of America, are also known in the city for get-out-the-vote efforts. Cuomo accepted the WFP line in 2010 when he was first elected.

Whether the party taps the governor or an actual third-party candidate from the left remains to be played out.

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