ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s approval rating has dropped to its lowest point amid legislative debates about government corruption and an ongoing fight with teachers unions, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

The March 11-16 survey found that 50 percent of respondents approve of the Democratic governor’s job performance, with 39 percent disapproving. That’s down from a 58 percent approval rating in December. Cuomo’s highest approval rating was 74 percent in December 2012.

Only 35 percent approve of Cuomo‘s handling of governmental ethics, a key issue this year in Albany following recent corruption scandals. And only 28 percent approve of his handling of education, which respondents identified as their top issue.

Teachers unions have launched ads attacking Cuomo over school funding and his proposals to overhaul teacher evaluations, change tenure rules and authorize more charter schools. Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll said the poll shows voters are siding with the unions.

“‘Tepid’ is the word I use,” Carroll said of Cuomo’s overall approval rating, adding “50-39 is not good. Mostly it’s the teachers. It’s ethics and education.”

“Normally when Quinnipiac asks what’s the big problem, the biggest problem facing the state, it’s almost always the same thing — jobs,” Carroll told WCBS 880. “This time it’s not, this time it’s education.”

Cuomo shrugged off the numbers on Wednesday, telling reporters at a Capitol press conference that dips in public opinion are to be expected during the legislative session, as he works with lawmakers to craft a state budget littered with proposals that upset one interest group or another.

“This is a contentious period,” he said. “It’s very much the nature of the beast.”

The poll also found wide support for a higher minimum wage, which is now $8.75 an hour and is set to go to $9 at year’s end. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they would support Cuomo’s call to raise the minimum to $10.50 statewide, and 68 percent favor his plan to raise it to $11.50 within New York City.

Respondents were split 47 percent to 47 percent when it came to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to raise his city’s wage to $13 an hour, though two thirds of the respondents in the city supported the idea.

When asked whose political views most represented theirs, 26 percent of respondents chose Cuomo and 22 percent selected de Blasio. Cuomo’s highest numbers were in the suburbs (31 percent), while de Blasio’s were in New York City (37 percent).

“Cuomo won by a whisker,” Carroll told WCBS 880. “People do believe that there is a squabble, a feud between the governor and the mayor and they think that’s bad news for Albany, and even worse news for New York City.”

Quinnipiac’s telephone survey of 1,228 New York voters has a 2.8 percent margin of error.

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