Support rises for school tax on NYC's richest, poll says

Bill de Blasio
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A poll released Wednesday showed Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York state Legislature may have the political support they need to approve New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's proposed tax increase on wealthy city residents to pay for pre-Kindergarten programs.

The popular support statewide is critical for the city measure because Cuomo and state lawmakers would have to approve the tax on wealthy city residents in an election year, when Cuomo and Senate Republicans are promising tax cuts.

The Quinnipiac University poll showed that 63 percent of voters statewide support the tax increase on New York City residents in households making more than $500,000 a year.

Republicans statewide, however, oppose the city tax increase and that could mean Senate Republicans who share control of the chamber's majority could block de Blasio's bid to pay for an expanded early education program.

(Read more: Think taxes chase away millionaires? Think again)

The Quinnipiac University poll showed 81 percent support among Democrats, 61 percent among independents and 58 percent opposition among Republicans.

"Note that only 18 percent of voters list increased funding for schools as a top priority," said Quinnipiac Polling Institute Director Maurice Carroll.

In questioning 1,337 registered voters last Wednesday through Sunday, 37 percent said creating jobs is the most important priority for state lawmakers and Cuomo, while 22 percent said reducing taxes was more important.

The Quinnipiac poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.

New calls to tax the rich more

The Senate Republicans have called for tax cuts in 2014, an election year for state legislators as well as the governor. Spokesman Scott Reif said Wednesday, "We support the concept of universal Pre-K, but with anything the question is: How do you pay for it?"

Cuomo, de Blasio's fellow Democrat, this week in a radio interview said New York is already a high-tax state and also called for cutting, especially property taxes.

Cuomo has established two tax commissions to recommend ways to simplify the tax law and cut taxes. However, he and the Legislature have extended an income tax surcharge on top earners and a business tax that together have generated more than $2 billion in additional tax revenue annually since 2010.

(Read more: Large employers cite 'Cadillac' tax in benefit cuts)

That put the state income tax rate on annual earnings over $500,000 at 8.97 percent. The additional city rate on those earnings currently is 3.876 percent, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

(Read more: IRS has message for tea party, Koch bros and unions)

E.J. McMahon of fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy said the new poll results were no surprise. "Polls across the country always show large majorities in favor of raising taxes on the high-income earners," he said.

—By The Associated Press