NY voters like key pieces of new budget, but few call it “good” or “excellent” for the people

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs one of the this year’s budget bills. While only 22 percent of New Yorkers call the budget “excellent” or “good” for New York, a large majority of voters like key policy changes included in the budget. Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office.


While only 22 percent of New Yorkers think the recently enacted state budget is either excellent or good for the people of the state, at least 71 percent agree that creating a clean water infrastructure fund, increasing aid to local school districts, allowing upstate ride sharing, and making SUNY and CUNY free for middle-class families will make New York better, according to a new Siena College poll of state voters.

Sixty percent of all New York voters label the new budget as either “fair” or “poor” for the people of New York. A majority of several groups separated out of the sample according to region, aprty affiliation and income were less than thrilled with the final budget. For example, 69 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents, 72 percent of conservatives, 62 percent of union households, 64 percent of upstate voters, 64 percent of Latino voters and 67 percent of those making less than $50,000 a year label the budget as either “fair” or “poor.”

“More than half of New Yorkers say they have read or heard a great deal or at least some about the recently enacted state budget, and only 22 percent say it is an excellent or good budget for the people of the state, while 23 percent say it’s a ‘poor’ budget,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

Siena pollsters asked registered voters about the big ticket budget items passed in early April, including a$1.1 billion increase in funding to local school districts; raising the age of criminal responsibility from age 16 to 18 for many crimes; creating a $2.5 billion clean water infrastructure fund; providing free public college tuition to most New York families; and allowing Uber and Lyft to expand upstate.

Of these initiatives, the most popular is a 4 percent increase in aid to local school districts, with 80 percent of all voters statewide saying they either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with the new spending.

Meanwhile 78 percent of all voters either “somewhat” or “strongly” agree that creating a fund for drinking water emergencies is a good use of state funds; 75 percent of voters “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with allowing ridesharing services to expand upstate and Long Island; and 71 percent of voters “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with making SUNY and CUNY undergraduate tuition free for New Yorkers whose families make less than $125,000 a year.

“While New Yorkers might not be keen on the total budget package — the first in Governor Cuomo’s tenure to be late by more than a week — they do like many of the headline items included in the budget,” Greenberg said. “Still, 42 percent say Gov. Andrew Cuomo deserves an ‘A’ or ‘B’ for his budget work, while only 22 percent give him a ‘D’ or ‘F.’ Overall, voters give the governor a solid ‘C+,’ or 2.2 GPA for effectiveness on this year’s budget.”

Of the five budget items included in the Siena poll questions, the most polarizing is raising the age of criminal responsibility for young people arrested for certain crimes.

Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds are automatically treated as adults when arrested for certain crimes in New York state. But the new law will raise that age of criminal responsibility to 18 for all but the most serious crimes. The new policy will also begin to separate teenagers from adults in most state prisons and expand youth courts and rehabilitation programs.

“About two-thirds of Democrats and New York City voters think raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 will make New York better, as do a small majority of independents, downstate suburbanites and upstaters. By a 53-to-43 percent margin, Republicans disagree,” Greenberg said.

Gov. Cuomo has a 54-to-37 percent favorability rating (from 54-to-40 percent last month), a negative 47-to-51 percent job performance rating (from negative 47-to-52 percent last month), and 51 percent say they are prepared to re-elect him, compared to 39 percent who prefer ‘someone else’ (up from 48-to-41 percent last month).

“Cuomo’s 71 percent favorability rating from Democrats more than offsets the unfavorable rating he gets from Republicans (58 percent) and independents (52 percent). He is strongly favorable downstate, while a plurality of upstaters view him unfavorably,” Greenberg said. “It’s still a long way till the 2018 election, however, by a 12-point margin, voters say they are prepared to re-elect Cuomo, up from 7 points last month.

“The Assembly is viewed favorably by a 9-point margin, virtually unchanged from 10 points last month, while the Senate is viewed favorably by an 8-point margin, up slightly from 6 points last month,” Greenberg said.

Majorities of downstaters and Democrats and pluralities of upstaters and independents say the state is on the right track. A plurality of Republicans say the state is headed in the wrong direction. Overall, “right track” leads by 19 points, up from 10 points last month, Greenberg said.

This Siena College Poll was conducted from April 17-20, 2017 by telephone calls conducted in English to 714 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 4.1 percentage points.

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