Lawmakers Should Not Be Classified as Part-Time: Poll

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009  |  Updated 2:56 PM EDT
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Lawmakers Should Not Be Classified as Part-Time: Poll

A new Siena College Research poll finds that only 31 percent of voters favor the current system, with the majority believing there needs to be changes to how lawmakers earn and report other income.

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Fewer than one-third of registered voters favor New York’s current system of defining legislators as part time employees who can have other jobs, a new poll indicates.

New York's 212 lawmakers, who make at least $79,500 in their part-time jobs, are allowed to continue to work on the side – including in the often undefined world of consulting.

A new Siena College Research poll finds that only 31 percent of voters favor the current system, with the majority believing there needs to be changes to how lawmakers earn and report other income.

But, voters cannot agree on how to best change the system. 

“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,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg. 

“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,” he said.

The split over how legislators’ employment is categorized comes just weeks after former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was convicted of federal corruption charges – a case that was linked to his outside consulting work.

The Siena poll also finds that 47 percent of voters were disappointed that the Senate rejected the bill to legalize same-sex marriages in New York, compared to 41 percent who were pleased by the Senate’s vote.  Liberals, young voters, Democrats and Jewish voters were most disappointed, the poll finds.

And in the possible matchup between Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Rudy Giuliani in a run for U.S. Senate, the poll finds Giuliani leading by 7 points.

“Giuliani does significantly better with Republicans, 82-11 percent, than Gillibrand does with Democrats, 59-33 percent,” the poll finds.

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