New York state voters would rather cut services than raise taxes to balance the budget, 56 percent to 30 percent, a Quinnipiac University poll said.
New York, the third most-populous U.S. state, faces a deficit of as much as $10 billion next year, according to Budget Director Robert Megna. The poll said 97 percent consider the state’s budget problems somewhat or very serious.
Assembly Democrats worsened the problem by failing to close a $315 million gap in this year’s $135.3 billion budget, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo said Nov. 30. Cuomo, who takes office Jan. 1, has until Feb. 1 to propose his budget for the fiscal year starting April 1.
“We’ve got a big budget problem, New Yorkers tell Albany,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut. He said voters “are not too hopeful that state lawmakers and the new governor will be able to solve the budget mess.”
Voters predicted state government would fail that challenge, 46 percent to 38 percent, the poll said. Although respondents opposed tax increases 66 percent to 31 percent, 82 percent said they expected the state to raise levies anyway.
Among deficit-closing strategies, 72 percent support a wage freeze for state workers, with 23 percent against, the survey said. Cutting state aid to public schools was opposed by 78 percent to 19 percent in favor, according to the poll.
The institute conducted 1,646 telephone interviews from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, giving the survey a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points, said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.
The Quinnipiac poll results differed from a survey released Nov. 15 by the Siena Research Institute, which said 52 percent of voters urged Cuomo and the Legislature not to cut spending on health care or education, even if it meant raising taxes. Job creation ranked first as the state’s top priority with 48 percent, while 31 percent cited the need to balance the budget.
Voters expressed optimism that Cuomo would solve the deficit problem, 59 percent to 40 percent who were pessimistic. The survey of 802 voters, conducted Nov. 8-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, according to the Loudinville, New York-based institute, part of Siena College.
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