ALBANY -- A poll released by Sienna College on Tuesday shows that 97 percent of New Yorkers say it is important for the Governor and Legislature to pass new laws to address corruption in state government before the legislative session ends in June.
A plurality of 30 percent say it's the single most important issue that must be acted on before session ends, while 82 percent say it's very important.
"A near unanimous 97 percent say it is important for the Governor and Legislature to pass laws addressing corruption before session ends," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg in analyzing the results. “As the former Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader are about to be sentenced after their corruption convictions, corruption is very much the issue for New Yorkers right now. By a 93-4 percent margin, voters say corruption in Albany is a serious problem. Nearly two-thirds say corruption among state legislators from their area is a serious problem.”
Greenberg added: "Corruption even beats out education, affordable housing and combating the heroin epidemic as the single most important issue. The problem is clear but voters don't agree on all solutions and they are decidedly pessimistic that Cuomo and the Legislature will address the corruption issue before the end of session."
The poll, which surveyed New York State registered voters, shows that more than three-quarters of voters support stripping pensions from state legislators convicted of crimes related to their public service regardless, of when the legislator was first elected, and an identical number, 77 percent, say such a pension forfeiture law should apply to all state employees, not just elected officials.
Respondents were divided on limiting legislators' outside income to 15 percent of their salary, as proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and a majority continues to support a full-time legislature that bans outside income. A majority also opposes increasing legislators' pay even if they are full time legislators.
Yet, by a two-to one margin, voters are pessimistic that significant anti-corruption legislation will be enacted this session.
More than two-thirds of Democrats and voters from New York City, as well as at least 81 percent of Republicans, independents and voters from the downstate suburbs and upstate support a law to strip convicted legislators of their pension, even if they were elected prior to that law being passed. A least 72 percent of voters from every region and party support applying the pension forfeiture law to all state employees.
"While there's overwhelming support for the Governor's proposal on pension forfeiture, there's mixed support for his proposal to limit legislators' outside income to 15 percent of their salary," Greenberg said. "That proposal is supported by 45 percent of New Yorkers and opposed by 48 percent.”
Greenberg said the close division is true among Democrats, Republicans, independents and voters from every region of the state.
"By a 56-37 percent margin – down slightly from 60-34 percent in February – voters support making the Legislature full time and banning outside income. Democrats and independents strongly support that, while Republicans are more divided between that idea and keeping the Legislature part time," Greenberg said.
"If the Legislature was full time with outside employment banned, voters would still oppose, 56-41 percent, legislators getting a raise. Republicans and independents strongly oppose a raise, while Democrats are closely divided."
The poll also shows popular Senator Charles Schumer (D) maintaining a strong 57-32 percent favorability rating, down a little from 60-29 percent in February. He holds a huge lead over challenger Wendy Long (R). In a head-to-head matchup, Schumer leads Long by 40 points, 64-24 percent.
Currently, 52 percent say they are prepared to re-elect Schumer, while 38 percent would prefer 'someone else,' largely unchanged from February.
Long has a 13-10 percent favorability rating, but 78 percent of respondents said they don’t not know enough about her to have an opinion.
She had a 17-16 percent favorability rating with 67 percent not knowing enough about her in October 2012, shortly before losing to Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in that year's race for United States Senator.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton (D) continues to hold large lead over Donald Trump (R) in the presidential race. Clinton still has a negative 48-50 percent favorability rating, which is down slightly from 48-48 percent in March, while Donald Trump has a negative 26-70 percent favorability rating, down a little from 29-67 percent in March.
Clinton leads Trump 56-30 percent, little changed from a 57-34 percent lead in March.
"The battle for New York – between the native New York businessman and the former Senator from her adopted home state of New York – continues to be a one-sided race," Greenberg said. "With a two-to-one Democratic enrollment edge, Clinton has a nearly two-to-one edge over Trump. Her 67-point lead with Democrats and 14-point lead with independents trumps his 49-point lead with Republicans.”
At the state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s standing with voters has edged up … slightly. Cuomo has a 54-41 percent favorability rating, up a little from 52-43 percent in February, and his job performance rating is a negative 43-56 percent, up slightly from negative 42-58 percent in February.
"Cuomo has seen a slight uptick in his favorability and job performance ratings – now both at their best level since April 2015 – although this poll was completed prior to news breaking that the Administration was facing Federal subpoenas," Greenberg said. "Interestingly, his favorability rating was down a little in New York City but up in both the downstate suburbs and upstate, while on a partisan basis he improved more with Republicans – although still very much under water with them – than he did with Democrats or independents."
The Siena College Poll was conducted April 24-27, 2016 by telephone calls conducted in English to 802 New York State registered voters. It has an overall margin of error of + 4.1 percentage points.