Most New Yorkers support millionaires’ tax, ‘raise the age,’ free college tuition

“ALBANY — With state leaders racing to finalize a new state budget by the Saturday start of the new fiscal year, a majority of New Yorkers say tax the rich, keep teens out of adult prisons and offer free tuition for some public college students.

According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 56% of those surveyed said the state should extend an expiring tax on millionaires while just 25% wanted to end it.

The sentiment to extend the tax is particularly strong among Democrats and independents, while a plurality of Republicans (38% to 34%) say the tax should be allowed to expire.

Gov. Cuomo has proposed a straight extension of the tax, saying the state needs the billions in revenue it raises to help fund things like middle class tax cuts enacted last year. The Democrat-led Assembly wants to extend and expand the tax while Senate Republicans want to let it expire.

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Cuomo’s proposal to provide free college tuition to public college students from families with households with family incomes of up to $125,000 is even more popular, the poll found.

Seven out of every 10 New Yorkers support the plan, while just 26% oppose it, including 54% of Republicans, the poll found.

Cuomo and the Legislature are negotiating a compromise that would also expand the state Tuition Assistance Program that helps not only public college students, but those at private higher education institutions as well.

Another issue under intense negotiations is Cuomo’s plan to raise the age to 18, up from 16, that teens can be tried as a adults.

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The Quinnipiac poll found that 59% of New Yorkers support treating 16- and 17-year-olds as juveniles in the criminal justice system while 29% said they should be charged as adults.

Under the plan being negotiated, youth courts would be created to handle some juvenile cases, while others would go through family court.

“New Yorkers love their children. They don’t want to put them in prison with adults and they want to pay for college for low-income students,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio’s bid to continue mayoral control of the city school system has strong support (61%) from New York City residents, but less statewide. New Yorkers across the state support extending the mayoral control law, which expires in June, by just a 45% to 39% margin.

Though Cuomo and the Assembly have proposed extending the law in their budget proposals, the Senate wants to hold off addressing the issue until later in the legislative session.

State government corruption continues to be on the minds of New Yorkers, with 80% of those surveyed by Quinnipiac calling it a very or somewhat serious problem.

The sentiment stretches across all political ideologies and regions of the state.

But just 44% of New Yorkers believe Cuomo and the Legislature will take steps this year to address the problem, while 43% say they will not.

At the same time, 43% of those polled said that they believe Cuomo is part of the ethics problem in Albany, including 68% of Republicans and 51% of independents. Forty-four percent of those surveyed statewide see Cuomo as the solution, including 63% of his fellow Democrats.

Cuomo has proposed a robust set of ethics reforms in his budget plan, but few, if any, are expected to pass. Many government reform advocates have criticized the governor for not pushing the issue hard enough.”

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