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December 18, 2002

Poll: New Yorkers prefer cutting government to raising taxes

A new poll of New York voters shows that New Yorkers by a significant margin prefer cuts in government to higher taxes, as Albany deals with the state's current fiscal challenges.

More than half of New Yorkers polled (52 percent) said the state should cut services to balance the budget, a poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll showed. In contrast, only 34 percent of responding New Yorkers said the state should raise taxes.

The poll had asked if respondents preferred "raising taxes to keep state services at their current level or cutting state services to keep taxes at their current level?" The poll did not include questions about reducing taxes or cutting costs by making government more efficient.

Virtually all New York voters polled said New York State's budget problems are either "very serious" (48 percent) or "somewhat serious" (44 percent).

Forty percent of New York voters said they dislike their local property tax the most, followed by 17 percent each who list the federal income tax and the state sales tax, 10 percent who list the Social Security tax, and 8 percent who list the state income tax.

Governor George Pataki has said the state is facing a gap of about $2 billion between what it planned to spend this year and expected revenues. In addition, a budget gap of $5 billion or more is projected for the 2003-04 fiscal year.

Since early November, The Business Council's research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, has been publishing a series of analyses of the fiscal challenge called Budget Watch '03. These reports, which are available at www.ppinys.org/bwatch.03, show that New York's problem is rooted in its spending habits.

In the last five years, New York's state-funds expenditures have rising by nearly $15 billion, or 32 percent - more than twice the rate of inflation. If this state-funds spending had merely kept pace with inflation since 1998, taxpayers could have saved $7.9 billion this year alone.

Quinnipiac surveyed 999 New York State registered voters from Dec. 9-16. The poll, which was released Dec. 18, had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.