A Siena College poll finds that New Yorkers are hopeful that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo can solve some of the problems that have been facing the state for years, including job losses and the state’s $9 billion dollar budget deficit.
“A majority of voters are either very or somewhat optimistic that Cuomo will successfully deal with these issues,” said Siena’s Steve Greenberg. Seventy-six percent believe Cuomo will develop programs to create jobs, while 59 percent think the new governor will solve the state’s chronic budget problems.
In the past, politicians have frequently promised to create new jobs and solve the state’s fiscal problems. Among them, former governor Eliot Spitzer, who was wildly popular around the state at this time four years ago, before resigning in 2008. Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, when running in the 2000 Senate race, also pledged massive job creation, but it’s unclear whether those goals were ever reached. Greenberg says despite that, New Yorkers choose to be optimistic about the new administration.
“If they don’t have hope, there’s no reason to stay here,” Greenberg said.
There are some signs that the state’s residents are not taking a rosy view of everything that’s to come. More New Yorkers, 54 percent, currently think the state is headed in the wrong direction than on the right track. But Greenberg says those numbers were even worse before Election Day, when more than three quarters thought the state was on the wrong track.
Some topics that were discussed extensively in campaigns for statewide and legislative office, including bringing down property taxes, and cleaning up corruption, are much lower priorities for New Yorkers than creating jobs or balancing the budget. Just nine percent of those asked thought enacting a property tax cap was a major concern, only six percent felt stronger ethics laws were a top priority, and just four percent think redrawing legislative and congressional district lines in a fair manner is a number-one concern.
Cuomo faces a tough challenge in fulfilling the top priorities named by New Yorkers. The nation’s and state’s economy continues to be poor, making it more difficult to create and retain jobs.
The governor–elect has also pledged to close the state’s $9 billion budget deficit without any new taxes. But Cuomo also acknowledges that the state has many needs, including infrastructure improvements.
“This situation typifies problems we have all across the state,” said Cuomo, after taking a tour of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which funnels traffic on the Thruway across the Hudson River. Studies show the heavily used and aging bridge still needs substantial repairs, and might even need to be replaced. He said some 5,000 of the state’s 17,000 bridges have been deemed “deficient.”
Cuomo says the answer is not to spend more money or to raise taxes to fix bridges and address other needs, but to be more efficient with the current state budget, which totals more than $130 billion. Cuomo says he thinks he can also save money by cutting down on fraud and waste, he cites instances of abuse in the state’s pension system as an example.