More than two-thirds of voters said in a Siena College poll today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo should suspend the planned 3,500 layoffs to Public Employee Federation workers and negotiate a deal that avoids the job cuts.
By a 70 percent to 27 percent margin, voters said the Democratic governor should work out a deal with PEF. The poll comes out a day after Cuomo and PEF announced a tentative four-year contract that would avoid the layoffs, which were set to begin Wednesday.
“A solid majority of voters from every party, region and demographic group think the governor should suspend the layoffs,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.
The poll also found broad support for extending higher income taxes on the wealthy, with a 72 percent to 26 percent margin saying the state should keep higher taxes on those making more than $1 million a year. Higher income taxes on New Yorkers making more than $250,000 is set to expire at year’s end; it brought in about $4 billion in annual revenue to the state.
Cuomo had rejected keeping the higher income taxes and vowed to move forward with the layoffs if PEF, the state’s second-largest union with 55,000 members, didn’t vote to adopt a new contract after rejecting the first offer on Sept. 27.
The new deal moves the contract from five years in the initial proposal to four years. The state will delay the effective date of the layoff notices until Nov. 4 to allow union members to hold the vote.
The new contract includes reimbursement for workers for nine furlough days at the end of the four-year deal, instead of repaying for four furlough days in the original deal. It also removes a $1,000 cash payment over two years — in the third and fourth years of the deal. The four-year deal has no salary increases for the first three years and a 2 percent increase in 2014.
Cuomo said the deal includes the same no-layoff protections as the first contract offer. That deal included layoff protections through the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The contract negotiations have done little to affect Cuomo’s broad popularity, the poll found. Cuomo’s favorability rating remained at 71 percent to 22 percent, down slightly from a Siena College poll last month that put his favorability at 72 percent to 18 percent. Cuomo’s job performance rose slightly, up to 58 percent to 41 percent.
The poll also asked about next year’s budget priorities. Cuomo will unveil his 2012-13 budget proposal in January.
The poll found that voters by a 51 percent to 35 percent margin voters would prefer the expected $2 billion deficit be closed by cuts to spending rather than increased revenues. Voters preferred cuts in the state workforce and parks rather than cuts in education and health spending. If taxes were increased, voters said they would prefer an increase in business taxes rather than personal income taxes, according to the poll.
The poll was conducted Oct. 10-12 by telephone calls to 800 New York State registered voters. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.