After spending his first month in office delivering one piece of bad fiscal news after another, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hit his highest popularity ever among New York voters, who feel the state is now headed in the right direction for the first time since October 2007.
A Siena Research Institute poll released Monday shows that 72 percent of voters support Cuomo's budget marks, a turnaround in New York. In the first two years of the fiscal crisis, then-Gov. David Paterson and governors in most states sank to record lows in popularity as they slashed budgets and ordered layoffs. Paterson's approval was often in the 30-percent range.
"The honeymoon continues," Steven Greenberg of the Siena poll said about Cuomo. "Despite what Gov. Cuomo described as a painful budget - or maybe because of it - 77 percent of voters say they have a favorable view of Cuomo, compared to only 16 percent who view him unfavorably."
Voters support his stand against tax increases and borrowing while reducing the state budget by $3.7 billion. But by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, they support extending a temporary surcharge on the income tax for New Yorkers making more than $200,000 a year. Cuomo opposes that as a new tax..
Cuomo may, however, be winning public support for his most politically dicey cut in school aid. He proposes a 7.3 percent reduction after several cuts last year.
Forty-five percent of voters said they wanted to see that cut least. But almost half of voters polled felt, like Cuomo, that there was enough waste and duplication in school districts to absorb the reductions so students don't suffer.
Forty-seven percent of those polled said the state is headed in the right direction, while 37 percent say it is still headed in the wrong direction. Two months ago, just 27 percent were optimistic about the state's future.
Cuomo declined comment.
The poll numbers come as Cuomo is trying to muster public support to get his spending proposal through the Legislature.
The Democrat is viewed favorably by 77 percent of voters, or 7 points more than a month ago. His favorability rating is now 13 points above his rating in November when he won the office his father, Mario Cuomo, once held.
The poll questioned 801 registered voters Feb. 7 through Thursday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.