By Robert J. McCarthy
Hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas recovery method better known as “fracking,” continues to divide New Yorkers.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released today, 44 percent support drilling because of economic benefits while 46 percent oppose drilling due to environmental concerns. Upstate voters are divided with 44 percent for drilling and 47 percent opposed. New York City voters are opposed 51 to 38 percent and suburban voters support drilling 52 to 39 percent.
Cuomo is dragging his feet to avoid making a decision on fracking, 39 percent of voters say, while 21 percent say he is carefully considering the matter, with 38 percent undecided.
Across the state, the new poll shows voters support New York Mayor-elect Bill deBlasio’s plans to increase city income taxes of households making more than $500,000 and using the money for public schools in the city.
Support for the tax hike is 81 to 15 percent among Democrats and 61 to 33 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 58 to 39 percent, the poll finds. Voters in every region support the idea, 68 to 30 percent in New York City, 55 to 42 percent in the suburbs and 64 to 29 percent upstate.
Creating jobs should be the top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature in their 2014 election year, 37 percent of voters say, followed by:
· 22 percent for reducing taxes;
· 21 percent for cleaning up corruption;
· 18 percent for increasing funding for public schools.
“New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s campaign issue, raising taxes on the well-to-do in the city to pay for improvements in education, wins solid approval in every corner of the state, except among Republicans. And Republican State Senators still have a lot to say about what happens in Albany,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
“Note that only 18 percent of voters list increased funding for schools as a top priority. How much voter anger do legislators face if the de Blasio tax hike never sees the light of day?”
New York State voters agree 62 to 33 percent that state government is dysfunctional. There is no party, gender, racial, income, age or regional group that disagrees. A total of 82 percent of voters say government corruption is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem.
Cuomo, not legislative leaders, should have primary responsibility for cleaning up legislative corruption, voters say 51 to 36 percent. But 24 percent of voters say Cuomo’s anti-corruption efforts are mainly “to pressure the legislature into supporting his agenda,” while 19 percent say his efforts “are mainly being used to reduce corruption,” with 55 percent undecided.
New York State voters disapprove 53 to 34 percent of the job the State Legislature is doing, but they approve 48 to33 percent of the job their local Assembly member is doing and approve 56 to29 percent of their state senator.
Voters disapprove 44 to 26 percent of the job Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is doing.
Fifty percent of voters are undecided about State Senate co-Leader Dean Skelos and 59 percent are undecided about State Senate co-Leader Jeff Klein.
Voters oppose 52 to 38 percent public financing of state elections. Democratic approval is 48 to 39 percent, and New York City voters are divided, with 46 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed. Republicans and independents, upstate and suburban voters all are opposed.