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The Governor's numbers lowest ever; reflect attitudes towards education cuts.

The Siena Research Group just released their latest polling numbers for Governor David Paterson, and it does not look good. The governor's approval rating and the view of his job performance have fallen to record lows. However, the governor's ratings were not the only numbers to fall: voters’ views on the direction the state is headed in, the state’s fiscal condition and the confidence voters have in state leaders to successfully address the budget crisis are all bottoming out.

The poll also revealed that New Yorkers overwhelming oppose making additional budget cuts in education and health rather than raising personal income taxes. In particular, more than 80 percent of voters are concerned that the proposed budget cuts in health and education would adversely affect the quality of health care and education in New York.

The message in all this is clear: cuts in these essential services are bad for New York, and we all know it. If the governor is successful in cutting funds to these programs, New Yorkers will suffer. Yet, despite all the proposed cuts that would endanger the quality of New York's education system, there are still other popular ways to reduce New York's budget gap. For example, 77% of New Yorkers support raising the income tax on those earning more than $1 million dollars. Moreover, at least 20 Senators in the State Senate support Fair Share tax reform.

So, why institute fair share tax reform?

Over the last 30 years, New York has reduced income tax rates on the wealthiest New Yorkers by more than 50%. Since high income tax brackets have been eliminated, working class families and the very rich now pay the same rate. These changes have resulted in a loss of $8 billion in state revenue a year.

A fair share tax plan, then, would have slightly higher income tax rates for higher tax brackets, just like the tax code in states like California and New Jersey; as well as bring in billions of dollars a year that would help close the budget gap.

Instead of pushing unpopular cuts that would harm essential institutions, like schools and universities, why not instead support fair, logical, and popular plans to close the budget gap? New Yorkers know that the budget gap needs to be closed, and that everyone needs to pitch in, but cutting funding to education will do more harm than good.