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Poll: What's up with Albany deals?Jimmy Vielkind
ALBANY — While voters' love affair with Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues, a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University struck a note of concern: 76 percent of those surveyed are bothered by a lack of transparency surrounding recent major policy deals.
Last month, lawmakers and Cuomo approved a state redistricting plan, launched a constitutional amendment to expand casino gaming, and created a new pension tier with reduced benefits for new state workers in a flurry of activity that included wee-hours legislative debates. The breakthrough paved the way for last week's subdued passage of the overall state spending plan.
But three-quarters of those surveyed called the lack of transparency in those deals a "very serious" (40 percent) or "somewhat serious" (36 percent) problem. And by almost two to one (55 percent to 30 percent), respondents said the secret negotiations that led to those deals weren't needed to achieve major policy initiatives.
Even so, the poll found 68 percent of voters approve of the job Cuomo is doing.
"Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and New York voters say Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done a beautiful job so far," said Quinnipiac's Maurice Carroll. "But if voters liked the result, they weren't happy with the process."
Carroll characterized Cuomo's job-approval numbers as "awesome."
More than two-thirds of those surveyed thought that the fact that the redistricting plan wasn't drawn up by an independent panel was a "very serious" (29 percent) or "somewhat serious" (39 percent) problem.
At two appearances Wednesday, Cuomo was asked about recent criticism of his commitment to transparency.
"I understand you can always do it better, and our goal is a perfect process ... and while it's a worthy goal, it's often unattainable," he said in Buffalo. "The more transparent the better. I get it, and we're doing everything we can."
He struck a somewhat different tone in Syracuse when asked about the value of transparency in his dealings with the Legislature, and what its limits might be.
"I don't know that anyone really would have gone to Albany to read a budget bill," Cuomo said. "There's hundreds and hundreds of pages, and I really don't think that's the way government is supposed to communicate, for me to say, 'You should get in a car, drive to Albany, sit there for three days and read all the budget bills' that don't make sense to anyone anyway.
"That's not what government is about, and I don't believe that's transparency," Cuomo continued. "I believe it's my responsibility, my obligation to go to the people and say, 'You live your life, you're busy — let me come to you and explain to you what I'm doing. That's how I see my job."