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Poll shows Cuomo's proposals backed by the majority of New Yorkers


A poll finds that voters overwhelmingly support a number of Gov. andrew Cuomo’s priorities for 2016, but New Yorkers still hold mixed views about the governor himself.

Steve Greenberg, spokesman for Siena College’s Research Institute, says 89 percent of New Yorkers view corruption at the state Capitol as a serious problem.  He says the issue has moved up on voter’s agenda, when at this time last year it was a low priority. That was before the headline grabbing scandals of 2015, which featured the arrest and conviction of both majority party legislative leaders on multiple corruption charges.

Voters still care more about education, job creation and taxes, than they do about fixing Albany. But there is majority support for proposals including  stripping pensions from lawmakers who are convicted felons, converting to a full time legislature and banning outside income, and closing a campaign finance loophole that allows donors to create limited liability companies to skirt donation limits.

Cuomo outlined those priorities in his recent State of the State message.

“Recent acts have undermined the public’s trust in government,” Cuomo said on January 13.

The governor faces opposition in the legislature. Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan says he still values a part time legislature where members work in other fields, but is open to talking about improvements in ethics .

“I don’t believe in a ban on outside income,” said Flanagan.

But he said “you’d have to be a fool” to want the status quo to remain, and he says his members are considering the governor’s other proposals.

“The devil is in the details, like anything else,” Flanagan said.

Assembly Democrats have said they will make some changes in their ethical procedures, but have not yet settled on the details.

Voters also back the governor’s plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage statewide, and by an even greater margin, want paid family leave.

Social justice activists, gathered for a weekly Moral Monday protest outside the governor’s office. Blue Carreker with Citizen Action, says she’s not surprised by the support .   

“The only surprise may come to  some of the people in halls here who seem to think that there is a question about this,” Carreker said. “People who are living day to day know the cost of providing the essentials to their families.”

Senate GOP Leader Flanagan says there is currently not enough support among Republican senators for the $15 minimum wage proposal. He says many small businesses would suffer under the higher labor costs.

“It’s not just one dimensional,” said Flanagan, who says he is also seeking improvements in workforce development and business regulations.

“All things that have an effect on people’s abilities to start, grow a business and prosper,” Flanagan said.

Despite the popularity of his ideas, Cuomo remains stuck in the polls. Since early last summer, around 50 percent of New Yorkers have said they personally view him favorably, while his job performance rating has been stuck at around 40 percent. Greenberg says 58 percent now say that the governor is not doing a good job in office. 

“We have a governor in his second term,” Greenberg said. “Voters have essentially made the determination, they like the guy, they don’t like the guy.”

The next gubernatorial race is not for another two years, but Greenberg says with a two-to-one Democratic enrollment, and a hefty campaign war chest, the governor does not need to be worried about his re election chances.  

Cuomo in his budget proposed a number of big infrastructure projects. The poll finds while most people want the state to spend money to upgrade the airports, the majority find the estimated $3 billion price tag to upgrade Penn Station to be too high.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.