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Poll: NYers decry secret dealing in budget talks

By Michael Gormley

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 4 2012 2:51 p.m. MDT

ALBANY, N.Y. — New Yorkers think continued secret dealing in Albany is a serious problem when it comes to spending their money and mapping out new election districts, but they still give high marks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo despite his driving the process.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 55 percent of voters said the closed-door negotiations weren't necessary to finalize the $132 billion budget last week. It shows three-quarters of voters believe the lack of transparency is a very serious or somewhat serious problem, and no geographic or political segment of voters thought the secret dealing was justified.

The poll also found 68 percent of voters approve of the way Cuomo is handling his job, just short of his record high in February.

"People are concerned about the way things are done in Albany," said Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll, "but they still like the results."

There was also strong support for raising the minimum wage, opposed by the Senate's Republican majority. Cuomo hasn't committed.

The poll found 78 percent of voters support raising the $7.25 minimum wage.

"We should be listening to the people," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is sponsoring the effort. "It's time to raise the minimum wage."

Taken together, the results are a rebuke of the longstanding "three-men-in-a-room" approach to crafting budgets, most recently by Cuomo, Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

"Our goal is a perfect process and we are working very hard to make it perfect," Cuomo said in Buffalo. "And while it's a worthy goal, it's often unattainable ... we're doing everything we can."

Cuomo defends the budget process as essential to adopting a spending plan and running government. As a candidate in 2010, he promised to create the most transparent government in state history.

"The enacted budget was the result of many public hearings, as well as the input of rank-and-file lawmakers from every corner of this state," said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate's Republic majority.

The poll questioned 1,597 voters from March 28 to April 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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