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April 26, 2000

New Zogby poll shows upstaters' concerns mirror Council priorities

A wide-ranging new survey of upstate residents by Utica pollster John Zogby and Colgate University shows that upstate New Yorkers' concerns closely mirror the top priorities of The Business Council.

In the poll, which was released April 25, taxes (cited by by 29% of respondents) and the economy and jobs (cited by 23% of respondents) were by far the top responses to the question, "in your opinion, what is the top issue facing New York State?" The issue ranked next-highest was education (cited by 9.5% of respondents).

In contrast, the environment was cited as the top issue by only 1.5 percent of respondents.

The Business Council's top six priorities for 2000 include elimination of the gross receipts tax (GRT) on energy, fiscal restraint to safeguard future tax cuts, and local property tax relief.

Respondents gave conflicting messages about their opinions of the upstate economy.

On one hand, 72.8% of respondents said they feel "optimistic" about upstate's economic future. However, 64.9% of respondents say they believe young people in the region will not be able to find good jobs locally when they enter the workforce. A total of 59.1% of respondents said their community did "average" (43.5%) or "above average" (15.6%) in economic growth compared to the nation during the 1990s.

Respondents also echoed Business Council priorities in their reaction to health-care questions by singling out the cost of health insurance (cited by 35.6 percent of respondents) as the most important health-care issue. In contrast, only 4.1 percent said it is most important to expose HMOs to new litigation as a way to resolve disputes over health-insurance coverage.

Respondents were sharply split on their views on the constitutionality of government vouchers to support tuition at private schools run by religious organizations.

More than half strongly disagreed (33.6 percent) or some disagreed (18.1 percent) with the argument that such vouchers violate the separation of church and state.” But 25.1 percent “strongly” agreed that vouchers do violate the separation of church and state.

The Zogby/Colgate University poll is the second major poll this month confirming that New Yorkers consider jobs and taxes top issues. Earlier this month, a poll sponsored by by M&T Bank warned that the proportion of upstate New York residents who expect to move out of the region is more than double that of residents in other states -- and said that high taxes (cited by 29 percent of respondents) was the most frequently cited reason by those who said they expect to move. (For more information on that survey, click here.)

For more information on the Zogby poll, click here.

April 26, 2000