Poll: Legislative Structure Needs Change

ALBANY—Almost two thirds of voters surveyed in a poll released today say that New York’s part-time legislative system needs to be changed. They just have no idea how.

“Only 31 percent of voters favor the current system of part-time state legislators who can have outside jobs and incomes, but voters cannot agree on how to best change the system,” said Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for the Siena Research Institute. “Better public disclosure of the size and source of outside income is the preferred reform of 27 percent of voters, while 31 percent favor prohibiting legislators from having outside employment. And of those 31 percent who favor banning outside employment, fewer than half support increasing the salary of legislators, while the majority suggest banning outside employment and not increasing legislative salaries.”

There has been a renewed look at the structure of New York’s legislative system since the federal fraud conviction of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. During his trial, it was alleged that Bruno mixed his personal business interests and legislative activity; the activities fall into a gray area under current New York law.

Siena also asked the 665 voters it surveyed about same-sex marriage, which was defeated earlier this month on the floor of the State Senate. The poll found that more voter–47 percent–were disappointed that the measure failed, compared to 41 percent who were pleased. However a majority of voters, 54 percent, said this was not a voting issue.

Siena did not ask in this poll whether respondents supported same-sex marriage, but in August found that 50 percent did.

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