December 9, 2010 - 97 Percent Of New Yorkers Say State Budget In Bad Shape, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; But Voters Oppose Layoffs, Cuts In School Aid

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New York State's budget problems are "very serious," 78 percent of New York State voters say, while another 19 percent say they are "somewhat serious," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. The "very serious" label ranges from 75 percent in the New York City suburbs to 84 percent among voters with a union member in the household.

Addressing the state budget should be the first priority of the New York State Legislature, 69 percent of voters tell the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, while 21 percent list ethics in government as the first priority and 3 percent list legislative redistricting.

But voters say 46 - 38 percent that New York's new governor, Andrew Cuomo, and the State Legislature will not be able to solve the state's budget problems.

By a 56 - 30 percent margin, voters would rather cut services than raise taxes to balance the state budget. Democrats favor higher taxes 44 - 39 percent, while support for service cuts is 75 - 13 percent among Republicans and 61 - 26 percent among independent voters.

"We've got a big budget problem, New Yorkers tell Albany," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Offered three choices for the number one legislative priority - the budget, ethics or redistricting - a big majority pick the budget.

"But New Yorkers are not too hopeful that state lawmakers and the new governor, Andrew Cuomo, will be able to solve the budget mess."

New York State voters oppose 66 - 31 percent raising taxes to balance the state budget, with no support for tax hikes in any group. But voters say 82 - 13 percent that the state government will increase taxes. This overwhelming expectation of tax hikes is consistent among all groups.

With 72 - 23 percent support, a wage freeze for state workers is the most popular option to help balance the state budget. Even Democrats support a wage freeze 72 - 25 percent. Voters with a union member in the household support a wage freeze 69 - 26 percent.

Support for other options varies:
  • 52 - 43 percent against layoffs for state workers;
  • 56 - 32 percent in support of furloughs for state workers;
  • 56 - 37 percent against reducing pension benefits for state workers;
  • 78 - 19 percent against reducing state aid to public schools.
"New Yorkers are not all that helpful about how to fix the fiscal problem. Cut school aid? Increase taxes? No and no, voters say," Carroll said.

"They'd sooner cut unspecified services than raise taxes. But preferences aside, an overwhelming majority think Albany will boost their tax bills.

"We don't want state workers to lose their jobs in these recessionary times. But we'd accept furloughs for state workers and we're solidly in favor of a wage freeze."

From November 30 - December 6, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,646 New York State voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 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. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

4. Which issue would you like to see taken up first by the state legislature; the state budget, ethics in government, or redistricting?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
State Budget         69%    70%    66%    69%    71%    67%    69%
Ethics in Gov        21     21     22     23     21     22     24
Redistricting         3      3      5      3      3      4      5
DK/NA                 6      6      7      5      4      8      2
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
State Budget         70%    67%    71%
Ethics in Gov        22     22     21
Redistricting         3      4      4
DK/NA                 6      8      5
 
 
5. How serious do you think New York State's budget problems are, very serious, somewhat serious, not too serious, or not at all serious?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Very serious         78%    79%    76%    80%    80%    77%    84%
Smwht serious        19     18     22     18     18     20     15
Not too serious       1      -      2      2      1      1      -
Not at all serious    1      1      1      -      1      -      -
DK/NA                 1      1      -      1      1      1      1
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Very serious         81%    78%    75%
Smwht serious        17     19     24
Not too serious       1      2      1
Not at all serious    1      1      -
DK/NA                 -      1      1
 
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? (*Combined high also 96% Dec 2008 / **Combined low also 92% Dec 2002)
                                                             VERY+SMWHT SAT
                                                             High    Low
                     Dec 09  Feb 04  Aug 18  Feb 18  Jan 15  Feb 04  Nov 06
                     2010    2010    2009    2009    2009    2010*   2003**
 
Very serious         78      81      65      69      74      81      62
Smwht serious        19      15      28      26      21      15      30
Not too serious       1       3       5       4       2       3       5
Not at all serious    1       1       1       -       1       1       1
DK/NA                 1       1       1       1       1       1       1
 
 
6. Do you think Governor Cuomo and the legislature will be able to solve New York State's budget problems or not?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Yes                  38%    27%    48%    35%    34%    42%    36%
No                   46     61     34     49     53     40     50
DK/NA                16     12     18     15     13     18     14
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Yes                  35%    43%    34%
No                   51     39     49
DK/NA                14     17     16
 
 
7. To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer; raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Raising taxes        30%    13%    44%    26%    26%    33%    28%
Cutting services     56     75     39     61     64     48     60
DK/NA                15     12     18     12     10     19     12
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Raising taxes        23%    39%    26%
Cutting services     64     44     59
DK/NA                12     17     15
 
TREND: To balance the state budget, if you had to choose, would you prefer - raising taxes or cutting government programs and services?
                     Dec 09  Feb 04  Aug 18  Feb 18  Jan 15  Dec 24  Aug 06
                     2010    2010    2009    2009    2009    2008    2008
 
Raising taxes        30      30      33      34      30      36      32
Cutting services     56      58      54      51      56      53      56
DK/NA                15      12      13      15      14      11      12
 
 
8. To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose - layoffs for state employees?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              43%    50%    34%    48%    51%    36%    35%
Oppose               52     46     59     47     46     57     60
DK/NA                 6      4      7      5      4      7      5
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              49%    33%    47%
Oppose               47     60     48
DK/NA                 4      7      5
 
 
9. To help balance the state budget do you support or oppose - furloughs for state employees?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              56%    51%    57%    59%    60%    52%    49%
Oppose               32     39     31     29     31     33     38
DK/NA                13     10     12     12      9     16     14
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              54%    56%    58%
Oppose               31     33     31
DK/NA                15     11     11
 
 
10. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose - a wage freeze for state workers?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              72%    69%    72%    75%    73%    71%    69%
Oppose               23     25     25     20     23     24     26
DK/NA                 5      5      3      5      4      6      5
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              75%    66%    76%
Oppose               20     29     20
DK/NA                 5      5      4
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose a wage freeze for state workers?
                     Dec 09  Feb 04  Dec 16
                     2010    2010    2009
 
Support              72      75      68
Oppose               23      20      28
DK/NA                 5       5       5
 
 
11. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose - reducing pension benefits for state workers?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              37%    43%    31%    40%    41%    33%    28%
Oppose               56     52     61     52     54     58     67
DK/NA                 7      5      8      8      5      9      5
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              37%    35%    40%
Oppose               55     57     56
DK/NA                 8      7      4
 
 
12. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose - cutting state aid to public schools?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              19%    31%    11%    18%    20%    19%    18%
Oppose               78     66     86     80     76     80     80
DK/NA                 3      3      3      2      4      2      2
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              20%    18%    20%
Oppose               78     78     78
DK/NA                 2      4      2
 
TREND: To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose cutting state aid to public schools?
                     Dec 09  Feb 04
                     2010    2010
 
Support              19      19
Oppose               78      78
DK/NA                 3       2
 
 
13. To help balance the state budget, do you support or oppose - increasing state taxes?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Support              31%    12%    44%    31%    31%    30%    33%
Oppose               66     85     51     67     66     66     64
DK/NA                 4      3      5      2      3      4      3
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Support              20%    39%    35%
Oppose               76     56     63
DK/NA                 4      5      2
 
 
14. To help balance the state budget, do you think the state will increase taxes or not?
                                                               Union
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    HsHolds
 
Yes                  82%    89%    77%    82%    84%    79%    84%
No                   13      7     17     13     12     14     13
DK/NA                 5      4      5      6      4      7      3
 
                     UpStat NYC    Suburbs
 
Yes                  84%    78%    85%
No                   12     15     11
DK/NA                 4      7      4