HARTFORD (AP) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his proposed $1.5 billion in tax increases aren't very popular among Connecticut voters, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday.

Forty percent of voters said they disapprove of how the state's new Democratic governor is handling the job, which he began in January. Thirty-five percent said they approve of his job performance while 25 percent don't know.

The bulk of respondents, 66 percent, said Malloy's two-year, nearly $40 billion budget increases taxes too much. Slightly more people, 68 percent, say it raises taxes on the middle class too much. Yet half of those surveyed agreed higher taxes are needed to balance the budget. Forty-eight percent said it doesn't raise taxes enough on the wealthy.

"With all due respect, this is why the past couple of governors refused to make the tough decisions that needed to be made: because tough decisions often aren't popular ones," a spokesman for the governor said. "Gov. Malloy has put forward an honest budget that asks virtually everyone in Connecticut to make sacrifices because he believes that's the only way we're going to fix what's broken and put Connecticut back to work. That people are unhappy with those sacrifices is no surprise."

Malloy has proposed raising taxes on everything from personal income to haircuts as a way to help raise revenue to close a projected $3.5 billion gap for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. He has also called for nearly $800,000 in spending cuts in the first year and $1 billion in labor savings, including concessions, each of the next two years.

"Connecticut voters are in a grumpy mood," said poll director Douglas Schwartz, pointing out how almost 70 percent are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state and no elected official in the poll has an approval rating above 50 percent.

The new governor does get high marks for traveling across the state, holding town hall meetings in 17 cities and towns to explain his budget and the fiscal challenges facing Connecticut. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said the sessions were a good idea.

Also, a majority of voters, 55 percent, said they are generally optimistic about the next four years with Malloy as governor. Thirty-nine percent said they were pessimistic, while 6 percent didn't know.

Most voters surveyed, 66 percent, said they don't believe the state employee unions will agree to $2 billion in labor savings over two years. Opinions were mixed about whether Malloy was asking for enough in givebacks.

The telephone survey of 1,693 voters, conducted March 1-7, has a margin of sampling error of 2.4 percentage points.