February 18, 2009 - New York Voters Back Millionaires Tax 4-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Most Voters Back Higher Tax On People Making $250,000

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By a 79 - 18 percent margin, New York State voters support a so-called 'Millionaires Tax,' a higher state income tax rate on people making more than $1 million a year, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Support for the higher tax sweeps across the political spectrum, 62 - 32 percent among Republicans, 91 - 7 percent among Democrats and 81 - 17 percent among independents, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Support drops slightly to 72 - 25 percent when the threshold for the higher tax rate is dropped to $500,000. Support drops further to 56 - 40 percent when the target number is set at $250,000. At this $250,000 target, Republicans switch to 60 - 37 percent opposed, while the lower number wins 67 - 29 percent support among Democrats and 59 - 38 percent support among independent voters.

Despite support for the Millionaires Tax, voters say 51 - 34 percent that they would rather cut state services than raise taxes.

And if taxes must be raised, voters prefer 64 - 28 percent raising the sales tax instead of the state income tax.

"'Tax the rich folks,' New Yorkers say. If you try to go from a 'Millionaires Tax' to a 'Quarter Millionaires Tax' you lose support, especially among Republicans, but overall voters still like the idea," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"New Yorkers to Albany: Cut services before you raise taxes. If you have to raise taxes, the sales tax is the choice."

New York State's budget problems are "very serious," 69 percent of voters say, while 26 percent say they are "somewhat serious."

But only 18 percent of voters say the State Legislature has the political courage to make unpopular budget decisions, while 74 percent says it will be "business as usual in Albany."

Voters disapprove 45 - 36 percent of the way Gov. David Paterson is handling the state budget. Voters split 45 - 45 percent on whether TV commercials attacking Gov. Paterson for proposals to cut health care are fair or unfair.

"Almost every New Yorker says the state is in a budget mess. Most think Gov. Paterson isn't handling it well and three out of four doubt that the State Legislature has the courage to confront the budget crisis. Voters think it will be 'business as usual' in Albany," Carroll said.

"Are those TV ads fair that show a blind man criticizing Paterson for cutting health care? Voters split."

Asked to choose which of the two biggest budget items should be cut, voters split with 28 percent saying cut health care and 29 percent saying cut education, with 43 percent undecided.

Looking at several tax proposals, New York State voters:
  • Oppose 79 - 19 percent increasing gasoline taxes;
  • Support 64 - 34 percent increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages;
  • Oppose 65 - 31 percent imposing a "fat tax" on non-diet sugary soft drinks;
  • Support 73 - 25 percent increasing cigarette taxes.
Voters statewide oppose 51 - 42 percent a payroll tax on employers in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) service area, with the money used to reduce the size of increases in subway, train and bus fares and bridge and tunnel tolls.

Voters also oppose 46 - 42 percent levying tolls on free East River and Harlem River bridges and using the money to reduce the size of MTA fare and toll hikes.

"Everyone knows that the only places to go for big budget savings are education and health care, but lawmakers won't get much guidance from voters. New Yorkers split on which to cut. More say they 'don't know,'" Carroll said. "It's the same story on the MTA bail-out plan. Voters don't like the payroll tax or the East River tolls."

From February 10 - 15, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,065 New York State registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and nationwide as a public service and for research.

20. In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in New York State today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Very satisfied        2%     3%     3%     -      2%     2%
Smwht satisfied      29     20     37     25     24     32
Smwht dissatisfied   37     35     37     41     36     38
Very dissatisfied    31     41     24     33     37     27
DK/NA                 1      1      -      1      1      1
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Very satisfied        4%     2%     2%     2%     1%
Smwht satisfied      30     24     25     34     26
Smwht dissatisfied   29     32     32     40     45
Very dissatisfied    37     41     40     23     27
DK/NA                 -      1      1      1      -
 
TREND: In general, how satisfied are you with the way things are going in New York State today? Are you very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied? (*also combined Low 30% on 12/24/08)
                                                             VERY+SMWHT SAT
                                                             High    Low
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 6   Jun 12  Feb 25  Jan 15
                     2009    2009    2008    2008    2008    1998    2008*
 
Very satisfied        2       2       3       3       3      13       2
Smwht satisfied      29      28      27      34      37      60      28
Smwht dissatisfied   37      33      34      38      34      20      33
Very dissatisfied    31      36      36      25      25       7      36
DK/NA                 1       1       1       1       1       1       1
 
 
38. Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Paterson is handling the state budget?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Approve              36%    34%    39%    34%    43%    30%
Disapprove           45     50     39     47     41     48
DK/NA                19     16     22     19     16     22
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Approve              40%    34%    35%    37%    36%
Disapprove           42     49     47     42     44
DK/NA                18     18     18     21     20
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Paterson is handling the state budget? (*handled the state budget)
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Apr 17
                     2009    2009    2008    2008*
 
Approve              36      42      40      52
Disapprove           45      43      46      18
DK/NA                19      15      14      29
 
 
39. How serious do you think New York State's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Very serious         69%    60%    71%    73%    69%    69%
Smwht serious        26     34     23     24     26     26
Not too serious       4      5      4      3      4      3
Not at all serious    -      -      1      -      -      1
DK/NA                 1      2      1      1      1      1
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Very serious         71%    74%    74%    66%    63%
Smwht serious        26     22     23     25     33
Not too serious       3      2      2      5      3
Not at all serious    -      -      -      1      -
DK/NA                 -      1      1      2      2
 
TREND: How serious do you think New York State's budget problems are - very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 6   Nov 6   Feb 12  Dec 18
                     2009    2009    2008    2008    2003    2003    2002
 
Very serious         69      74      71      63      62      57      48
Smwht serious        26      21      25      32      30      37      44
Not too serious       4       2       3       2       5       3       5
Not at all serious    -       1       -       1       1       1       1
DK/NA                 1       1       1       2       1       1       3
 
 
40. Do you think the state legislature has the political courage to make unpopular budgetary decisions or do you think it will be business as usual in Albany?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Has courage          18%    19%    19%    19%    18%    18%
Business as usual    74     76     71     75     76     73
DK/NA                 8      5     10      6      7      9
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Has courage          18%    18%    18%    18%    18%
Business as usual    77     75     76     75     71
DK/NA                 6      7      6      8     11
 
TREND: Do you think the state legislature has the political courage to make unpopular budgetary decisions or do you think it will be business as usual in Albany?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Has courage          18      20
Business as usual    74      71
DK/NA                 8       9
 
 
41. To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer - raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Raising taxes        34%    17%    47%    34%    33%    36%
Cutting services     51     76     35     51     57     46
DK/NA                15      7     18     15     11     18
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Raising taxes        33%    22%    24%    45%    37%
Cutting services     58     62     61     39     49
DK/NA                 9     16     15     16     15
 
TREND: To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer - raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 6
                     2009    2009    2008    2008
 
Raising taxes        34      30      36      32
Cutting services     51      56      53      56
DK/NA                15      14      11      12
 
 
42. If a tax increase is needed, which would you prefer - raising the state sales tax or raising the state income tax?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Raising sales tax    64%    73%    58%    68%    64%    64%
Raising income tax   28     19     36     22     27     28
DK/NA                 8      8      6     10      9      8
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Raising sales tax    57%    62%    61%    64%    69%
Raising income tax   37     28     30     27     23
DK/NA                 6     10      9      8      9
 
TREND: If a tax increase is needed, which would you prefer - raising the state sales tax or raising the state income tax?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Aug 6
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Raising sales tax    64      61      58
Raising income tax   28      29      32
DK/NA                 8      10      10
 
 
43. There is a proposal to raise the state income tax paid by people who earn more than a million dollars a year. Do you support or oppose this proposal?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              79%    62%    91%    81%    72%    84%
Oppose               18     32      7     17     25     12
DK/NA                 3      6      2      2      2      3
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              82%    79%    79%    80%    76%
Oppose               17     17     17     18     22
DK/NA                 2      4      4      2      2
 
TREND: There is a proposal to raise the state income tax paid by people who earn more than a million dollars a year. Do you support or oppose this proposal?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 6
                     2009    2009    2008    2008
 
Support              79      80      84      78
Oppose               18      16      13      18
DK/NA                 3       4       2       4
 
 
44. Some say that the income level for a tax increase should be lower than a million dollars. Do you support or oppose raising the state income tax paid by people who earn more than five hundred thousand dollars a year?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              72%    55%    84%    74%    70%    74%
Oppose               25     38     14     25     29     22
DK/NA                 3      7      3      1      2      4
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              75%    75%    75%    70%    69%
Oppose               25     22     23     25     28
DK/NA                 -      3      2      4      3
 
TREND: Some say that the income level for a tax increase should be lower than a million dollars. Do you support or oppose raising the state income tax paid by people who earn more than five hundred thousand dollars a year?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Support              72      73
Oppose               25      23
DK/NA                 3       4
 
 
45. Do you support or oppose raising the state income tax paid by people who earn more than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              56%    37%    67%    59%    52%    59%
Oppose               40     60     29     38     45     37
DK/NA                 4      4      3      3      3      4
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support              58%    61%    60%    53%    53%
Oppose               42     34     36     44     44
DK/NA                 -      5      4      3      4
 
TREND: Do you support or oppose raising the state income tax paid by people who earn more than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Support              56      55
Oppose               40      41
DK/NA                 4       4
 
 
46. There is a proposal for an "obesity tax" or a "fat tax" on non-diet sugary soft drinks. Do you support or oppose such a measure?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              31%    25%    38%    28%    30%    33%
Oppose               65     73     58     69     67     64
DK/NA                 3      2      4      3      3      4
 
                     UpState.....  UpState              DRINK OF CHOICEq47
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub    Diet   Regular
 
Support              37%    27%    29%    35%    29%    27%    27%
Oppose               63     70     69     59     68     68     71
DK/NA                 -      3      2      6      2      4      2
 
TREND: There is a proposal for an "obesity tax" or a "fat tax" on non-diet sugary soft drinks. Do you support or oppose such a measure?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Support              31      32      37
Oppose               65      64      60
DK/NA                 3       3       3
 
 
47. Which would you say that you drink more often - diet soft drinks or regular, non-diet soft drinks?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Diet                 29%    30%    27%    31%    27%    30%
Regular              37     37     43     30     44     30
DK/NA                35     34     31     39     29     39
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Diet                 27%    32%    31%    25%    29%
Regular              36     33     33     42     34
DK/NA                36     35     35     33     37
 
TREND: Which would you say that you drink more often - diet soft drinks or regular, non-diet soft drinks?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Diet                 29      30       31
Regular              37      40       38
DK/NA                35      30       31
 
 
48. Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on gasoline?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              19%     5%    26%    21%    24%    14%
Oppose               79     94     72     76     74     83
DK/NA                 2      1      3      3      2      3
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Support               8%    10%     9%    29%    20%
Oppose               91     89     89     68     77
DK/NA                 1      1      1      3      3
 
TREND: Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on gasoline?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Support              19      19      19
Oppose               79      78      79
DK/NA                 2       2       2
 
 
49. Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              64%    57%    74%    59%    59%    68%
Oppose               34     42     23     39     40     29
DK/NA                 2      1      3      1      1      3
 
                     UpState.....  UpState              Drink
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub    Wkly Q56
 
Support              67%    56%    58%    70%    67%    50%
Oppose               32     41     39     28     32     49
DK/NA                 -      3      3      2      1      1
 
TREND: Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Support              64      65      67
Oppose               34      32      32
DK/NA                 2       3       1
 
 
50. Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on cigarettes?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              73%    65%    83%    69%    66%    79%
Oppose               25     35     16     30     32     20
DK/NA                 1      1      1      1      1      2
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub    SmokersQ55
 
Support              68%    65%    65%    81%    76%    36%
Oppose               31     33     33     18     23     63
DK/NA                 1      2      2      1      1      1
 
TREND: Do you support or oppose increasing taxes on cigarettes?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24
                     2009    2009    2008
 
Support              73      74      73
Oppose               25      25      26
DK/NA                 1       1       1
 
 
51. To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, where do you think state spending should be decreased - health care or education?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Health care          28%    30%    30%    25%    31%    26%
Education            29     34     22     35     32     27
DK/NA                43     36     48     40     38     47
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Health care          30%    29%    29%    28%    27%
Education            34     31     32     25     32
DK/NA                37     40     40     48     41
 
TREND: To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, where do you think state spending should be decreased - health care or education?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Health care          28      30
Education            29      28
DK/NA                43      42
 
 
52. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed fare increases for buses, subways and trains, and toll hikes for bridges and tunnels. To help reduce the size of these fare and toll hikes would you support or oppose increasing taxes on businesses within the area served by the MTA?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              42%    35%    46%    41%    41%    42%
Oppose               51     61     46     50     54     49
DK/NA                 7      4      8      8      5      9
 
                     UpState.....  UpState              Commuters
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub    Yes Q54
 
Support              44%    38%    40%    43%    44%    43%
Oppose               50     50     50     52     51     53
DK/NA                 6     11     10      5      5      4
 
TREND: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed fare increases for buses, subways and trains, and toll hikes for bridges and tunnels. To help reduce the size of these fare and toll hikes would you support or oppose increasing taxes on businesses within the area served by the MTA?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Support              42      41
Oppose               51      51
DK/NA                 7       8
 
 
53. To help reduce the size of these fare and toll hikes would you support or oppose placing tolls on the East river and Harlem river bridges?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Support              42%    39%    45%    43%    42%    43%
Oppose               46     50     47     43     48     45
DK/NA                11     11      9     13     11     12
 
                     UpState.....  UpState              Commuters
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub    Yes Q54
 
Support              40%    47%    46%    37%    43%    43%
Oppose               42     32     34     61     47     56
DK/NA                17     21     20      2      9      1
 
TREND: To help reduce the size of these fare and toll hikes would you support or oppose placing tolls on the East river and Harlem river bridges?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Support              42      41
Oppose               46      46
DK/NA                11      13
 
 
54. Do you currently ride a Metropolitan Transportation Authority commuter train, subway or bus or pay a toll for an MTA bridge or tunnel at least once a week?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Yes                  39%    27%    48%    38%    41%    38%
No                   60     71     52     61     58     61
DK/NA                 1      2      -      1      1      1
 
                     UpState.....  UpState
                     Urban  Othr   Total  NYC    Sub
 
Yes                  14%     8%     9%    79%    33%
No                   85     90     89     20     67
DK/NA                 2      2      2      1      -
 
TREND: Do you currently ride a Metropolitan Transportation Authority commuter train, subway or bus or pay a toll for an MTA bridge or tunnel at least once a week?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Yes                  39      38
No                   60      61
DK/NA                 1       1
 
 
55. Do you currently smoke cigarettes?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Yes                  17%    15%    20%    16%    18%    17%
No                   82     85     80     84     82     83
DK/NA                 -      -      -      -      -      -
 
TREND: Do you currently smoke cigarettes?
                     Feb 18  Jan 15
                     2009    2009
 
Yes                  17      14
No                   82      86
DK/NA                 -       -
 
 
56. How often, if ever, do you drink alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine or never?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Every day             5%     5%     4%     5%     7%     3%
Few days a week      19     14     21     21     23     16
Few days a month     27     28     27     28     28     27
Few days a year      26     29     26     27     19     32
Never                21     23     21     18     23     20
DK/NA                 1      1      1      -      -      2
 
TREND: How often, if ever, do you drink alcoholic beverages such as liquor, year or never?
                     Feb 18 Jan 15
                     2009   2009
 
Every day             5      7
Few days a week      19     20
Few days a month     27     26
Few days a year      26     27
Never                21     20
DK/NA                 1      1
 
 
57. Have you seen the recent television ads which criticize Governor Paterson and his plans to cut funding for hospitals and other health care facilities?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Yes                  64%    61%    64%    65%    59%    68%
No                   35     38     36     35     40     31
DK/NA                 1      1      -      -      -      1
 
 
58. Do you think the ads are fair or unfair?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom
 
Fair                 45%    41%    45%    47%    39%    48%
Unfair               45     49     44     45     53     40
DK/NA                10     10     10      8      8     11