By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY,NY-- New Yorkers are bracing for more corruption arrests in Albany and believe state government is getting more dysfunctional, a Siena College poll released Monday found.
With a series of scandals rocking the state Capitol since early April, 67 percent of voters said state government is getting worse-and 88 percent said they think more arrests of lawmakers are coming, the poll said.
Voters, however, continued to have faith in Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and his favorability rating improved after four months of decline, according to Siena. By a margin of 50 percent to 36 percent, voters agreed with the Democratic governor's mantra that state government is "working again."
"How do voters feel about their state government? By one measure, not bad. By another measure, really bad," Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.
Upstate voters continued to have the most negative feelings about state government and Cuomo, who has been knocked mainly upstate for a gun-control law passed in January.
By a 51 percent to 40 percent margin, voters outside the New York City area preferred "someone else" to Cuomo as he plans to seek a second term next year. The result was similar in a Siena poll last month. Statewide, 55 percent of voters said they would re-elect Cuomo, compared to 36 percent who would prefer someone else.
No Republicans have announced they will run against him.
Still, even where Cuomo is most popular-in New York City and among Democrats-voters were turned off to the scandal-scarred Legislature.
Four lawmakers have been arrested in separate federal corruption cases since April, and a fifth, Assemblyman Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, is set to resign Monday because of dual reports that found he sexually harassed his female aides.
"Yes, voters, particularly Democrats and downstaters, may be inclined to agree with the governor that state government is working, but when asked to consider the legislative arrests, their thoughts quickly turn to dysfunction," Greenberg said.
Sixty-three percent of voters said Cuomo has tried to clean up corruption in Albany and didn't blame him for the recent troubles. His favorability was 64 percent to 32 percent, up slightly from last month, Siena said.
A plurality of voters, 41 percent, said the top legislative priority should be passing laws to address legislative corruption. The legislative session ends June 20. Fifty-seven percent of voters support a public campaign financing system, which Cuomo and good-government groups are seeking as part of a anti-corruption law.
By a 53-37 percent margin, voters supported a constitutional amendment to allow privately owned casinos in New York-the largest margin Siena has found. The issue is expected to be on the November ballot.
Siena includes a question on whether the state should allow hydraulic fracturing, the controversial practice of drilling for natural gas.
In this month's poll, 39 percent of voters wanted to see fracking move forward, while 41 percent were opposed. Last month, opponents outnumbered supporters 45 percent to 40 percent, Siena said.
The Siena College poll was conducted May 13-16 to 623 New York registered voters. It had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.