- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - The White House is praising New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for establishing universal pre-kindergarten.

In a statement released Wednesday, President Barack Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney called the new program “a major victory on early childhood education.”

Universal pre-kindergarten was the centerpiece of de Blasio’s mayoral campaign last year.

He advocated funding it by raising taxes on the wealthy. That idea was defeated in Albany by Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, and the state Legislature.

Instead, the program will be funded with state money. $300 million was allocated to New York City when the budget was signed earlier this week.

De Blasio says 53,000 new students will attend full-day pre-kindergarten this fall. That number will grow to more than 70,000 the following September.

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