NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)A new poll finds more New York City voters support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to pay for universal pre-kindergarten with existing state funds than Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal for a tax increase on those making at least $500,000 a year.

The Quinnipiac University poll highlights a potential challenge for the newly elected mayor as he tries to rally public support for his tax increase on wealthier New York City residents amid opposition in Albany from Cuomo and a key Republican legislative leader.

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The poll found 49 percent of city voters support funding pre-K without raising taxes versus 40 percent who favor de Blasio’s proposed tax hike on wealthier city residents. Voters statewide supported using existing state funds over a city tax increase, 47 percent to 37 percent.

Poll respondents in the city gave de Blasio a 51 percent favorability rating. And respondents across the state and in the city overwhelmingly approved of government support for pre-K, a signature issue for de Blasio.

“Everybody likes pre-K, what everybody doesn’t like is de Blasio’s way to pay for it,” said poll director Maurice Carroll. “They like Andrew Cuomo’s way to pay for it.”

De Blasio says a tax hike on the wealthy is the best way to insure steady funding for citywide universal pre-K. Cuomo, up for re-election this year, claims there is enough money in the state budget to fund a rollout of the program statewide.

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WEB EXTRA: Full Poll Results (pdf)

Regardless of how universal full day pre-K is funded, New York State voters support the idea by an overwhelming margin of 76 to 20 percent, the poll found.

“Just about everyone in this most liberal of states likes universal pre-kindergarten and they think – overwhelmingly – that kids will learn and that it will help them out of poverty,” said Carroll.

De Blasio’s tax plan cannot be enacted without approval from the state Legislature, and Republican State Senate leader Dean Skelos appeared to shut the door this week on bringing it to a vote.

The poll of 1,488 voters was conducted Feb. 6-10. It has a statewide margin of error of 2.5 percentage points and 4.7 percentage points in the city.

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