Voters Don’t Think New Laws Will Reduce Corruption; Say Cuomo was Right to not Hold Up Budget for Bigger Changes

NY state building

Voters Don’t Think New Laws Will Reduce Corruption; Say Cuomo was Right to not Hold Up Budget for Bigger Changes
Voters Say (50-44 Percent) Parents Right to Opt Out of State Exams; NY Doesn’t Spend Enough on Education but Voters Are Divided on Increasing Their Income Taxes to Pay for More Education Funding
Dems Happy with Clinton as Nominee; Reps Divided on Their Choice

Loudonville, NY. Nearly two-thirds of voters say that the ethics package recently enacted along with the state budget will have no real effect on corruption in state government, however, by a 54-36 percent margin, they say that Governor Andrew Cuomo did the right thing in dropping some ethics measures in order to get the budget passed on time, according to a new Siena College poll of New York State registered voters released today.

By a small 50-44 percent margin, voters say that parents were right to have their children opt out of the recent state exams. And while 60 percent of voters say that the state doesn’t spend enough on education, they are nearly evenly divided on whether or not they would be willing to pay more in income taxes to fund more state aid to education. More than two-thirds of Democrats prefer that Hillary Clinton be their party’s nominee, while Republicans are more divided with Chris Christie and Jeb Bush leading the pack. Clinton beats five potential Republican candidates in head-to-head general election matchups by margins of between 20 and 33 points.

“To boil it down, here’s what New York voters say: Corruption remains a serious problem in Albany. One in five voters agrees with the Governor that the new ethics laws will create the strongest ethics laws in the nation, while 68 percent agree with critics that say large loopholes remain. A plurality believes the new disclosure requirements do not go far enough. And by an overwhelming 65-25 percent margin, they say the new laws will have no real effect on reducing corruption in state government,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “Yet, despite all that, a clear majority say that Cuomo was right not to hold up the budget for bigger ethics law changes.

“Ethics and corruption are not issues that divide New Yorkers by party or geography. Democrats, Republicans, independents, upstaters, and downstaters all agree that the Governor did the right thing in not holding up the budget, and at least 60 percent of voters from every region and party say the new laws will have no real effect on reducing corruption,” Greenberg said.

“A plurality of voters – 45 percent – thinks that the new requirements for legislators to disclose outside clients do not go far enough, compared to 16 percent who think they go too far and 32 percent who think they’re about right,” Greenberg said. “And more than three-quarters of voters – including at least 72 percent of every party and region – are opposed to allowing lawmakers to continue to use campaign funds for legal fees if they are charged with wrongdoing.”

By Small Margin, Voters Say Parents Were Right to Have Children ‘Opt Out’ of Recent State Exams
“By small margins, Democrats, Republicans and independents all agree that parents were right to have their children opt out of the recent round of state exams for third through eight graders,” Greenberg said. “Downstate suburbanites think parents were right by a 12-point margin, while upstaters thought parents were right by a nearly two-to-one margin but New York City voters thought parents were wrong by a 57-38 percent margin. A majority of whites thought parents were right, while majorities of blacks, Latinos and Jews thought they were wrong.

Voters: More State Money for Ed. (Split on Taxes to Pay for It) & Less Test Emphasis on Teacher Evals.
“Only 15 percent think New York spends too much on education and another 22 percent say the state spends the right amount. However, 60 percent say the state does not spend enough on education, including a plurality of independents, half of downstate suburbanites and strong majorities of upstaters, New York City voters, Republicans, and Democrats,” Greenberg said. “And when asked if they were willing to pay more in state income taxes to fund more state money for education aid, voters are split, with 47 percent saying yes and 49 percent saying no. Among those who say the state does not spend enough, they support a tax increase 63-33 percent.

“More than two-thirds of voters think student standardized test results should count for no more than 25 percent of a teacher’s evaluation score, with 39 percent saying about 25 percent and 30 percent saying student test results should not count at all toward a teacher’s evaluation scores,” Greenberg said. “Only 28 percent of voters said test scores should count for 50 percent or more of a teacher’s evaluation. A majority of voters from every party and region say test scores should be 25 percent or less of teacher evaluation scores.”

Support for Easing School Districts’ Ability to Dismiss Ineffective Teachers
“By a 59-36 percent margin – including majority support from every party and region – voters support allowing school district to dismiss teachers that have been rated as ineffective for two years in a row. And by an even larger 67-27 percent margin, voters support requiring school districts to initiate dismissal proceedings against any teachers found to be ineffective for three consecutive years,” Greenberg said.

“While voters support those two proposals put forth by the Governor, they are evenly divided on whether they agree – 48 percent – or disagree – 47 percent – with the Governor when he says that the budget comprehensively transforms New York’s school system. Slightly more Democrats agree with the Governor than disagree, while slightly more Republicans and independents disagree with the Governor,” Greenberg said.

“Clinton, who has a 76-20 percent favorability rating among Democrats – 58-38 percent among all registered voters – is the preferred choice of 69 percent of Democrats, including 77 percent of liberals, for her party’s 2016 nomination for president. Only 22 percent of Democrats would prefer another candidate,” Greenberg said.

“Among New York Republicans, the nomination is clearly up for grabs. Christie has the support of 25 percent of Republicans, Bush has the support of 20 percent, and Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz split another 23 percent, while one-third of Republicans are undecided or want another candidate,” Greenberg said.

“With a year and a half until the general election, New York is showing no signs of moving into the ‘red’ column for the first time in three decades,” Greenberg said. “Clinton has a 20-point lead over Christie, who runs closest among the Republicans, and stretches it to 33 points against Cruz.”

Overwhelming Support for Increasing Minimum Wage Beyond Next Year’s Scheduled $9.00
“Only 26 percent of voters support keeping New York’s minimum wage at $9.00 next year, while 72 percent want to see it higher than that, with 39 percent supporting $10.50 and 33 percent supporting an increase to $15.00 per hour,” Greenberg said. “Support for a higher than $9.00 per hour minimum wage is across the board, including 78 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents.

By a narrow 50-46 percent margin, voters support a higher minimum wage downstate compared to upstate, a reversal from March when a geographic minimum wage differential was opposed 51-46 percent,” Greenberg said. “Downstate voters support the differential 57-40 percent, while upstaters oppose it 57-38 percent.”

Opponents of Dream Act Outnumber Supporters; Significant Partisan, Racial and Geographic Differences
“By a small 50-44 percent margin, opponents of the Dream Act continue to outnumber supporters, largely unchanged from the 48-44 percent opposition in December,” Greenberg said. “The Dream Act is strongly supported by Democrats, black, Latino, young and New York City voters. It is strongly opposed by Republicans, independents, downstate suburbanites, upstaters, and white voters.

Cuomo Ratings Hold Steady
Cuomo’s favorability rating is 56-39 percent, essentially unchanged from 57-39 percent last month, and he has a negative 44-55 percent job performance rating, essentially unchanged from a negative 43-56 percent last month.

“Despite a fifth straight on-time budget and a brief jaunt to Cuba, voters’ views of Cuomo are little changed over the last month. He continues to be well liked by two-thirds of Democrats, who also give him a positive job performance rating, and while his standing improved slightly with Republicans, it was offset by a comparable dip among independents,” Greenberg said.

Ratings for Both Houses of State Legislature – and Its Leaders – Fall a Little
The State Assembly’s favorability rating is 38-49 percent, down from 41-46 percent last month, and Speaker Carl Heastie has an 11-19 percent favorability rating, down a little from 11-15 percent last month. The State Senate’s favorability rating is 42-48 percent down from 44-46 percent last month, and Majority Leader Dean Skelos has a 12-28 percent favorability rating, down from 13-22 percent last month.

“With the continued swirl of corruption and investigation stories, not even an on-time budget could help the Legislature’s favorability ratings from dropping over the last month,” Greenberg said. “Both the new Speaker and the longtime Republican Senate leader hit record highs for their unfavorable ratings, although each remains unknown to at least 60 percent of voters.”

Direction of State Holds Constant, Barely Positive; Direction of Nation Slides Down More Negative
“By a 46-42 percent margin, voters say the state is on the right track, exactly the same as last month. New York City voters have a two-to-one positive view of the state’s direction, while the downstate suburbs fall into negative territory, joining upstate voters, who have long had a negative view of the direction of the state,” Greenberg said. “The country is headed in the wrong direction by a margin of 55-37 percent, up from 52-40 percent last month.”

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This Siena College Poll was conducted April 19-23, 2015 by telephone calls conducted in English to 785 New York State registered voters. Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. It has an overall margin of error of + 4.0 percentage points (Democrats + 6.3, Republicans +- 6.6) including the design effects resulting from weighting. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample provided by Survey Sampling International of landline and cell phone telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data was statistically adjusted by age, party, region and gender to ensure representativeness. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in NYS. SRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices. For more information, call Steve Greenberg at (518) 469-9858. For survey cross-tabs: