Legislative Survey Says...

Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
May 15, 2009

A few months ago, I sent out my 2009 Legislative Survey to constituents across our 129th Assembly District with the intention of learning their views on important public policy issues pending before the state Legislature. Surveys such as this are particularly helpful in shaping the bi-partisan agenda and common sense solutions I advance during the Legislative Session. They also afford me an opportunity to hear directly from the people on issues that matter to them.

The response to my survey was tremendous! In fact, our office received so many it took several weeks to input and tabulate them all. While individual answers will remain confidential, I wanted to share with you the overall results, provided as a percentage, so you could see how certain issues are resonating across our community.

The format for my 2009 Legislative Survey was as follows: for seven of the 11 questions, respondents could answer “yes,” “no,” or “no opinion.” For questions eight and nine – which were multi-part inquiries – persons could indicate whether they “supported,” “opposed,” or had “no opinion” on a particular topic. The tenth question asked individuals to choose from a list of issues and rank them – from one to three – based on their importance. Finally, the eleventh question afforded people an opportunity to mention anything else that was on their mind.

For the first question, on whether New York State should enact a local school district spending or tax cap, 71.81 percent said yes, 19.55 percent said no, and 8.64 percent had no opinion.

As to the state eliminating all unfunded mandates on area municipalities and school districts to help lower local taxes, this question received a response of 84.68 percent for yes, 7.79 percent for no, and 7.53 percent having no opinion.

Next, on the issue of tax incentives being utilized to bring job-creating businesses to New York State, 75.73 percent said yes, 19.34 percent said no, and 4.93 percent said no opinion.

To the question of the state Legislature requiring a two-thirds “super majority” vote for final passage of all legislation that would impose, continue, or revive taxes, 81.77 percent responded yes, 10.57 percent responded no, and 7.66 percent responded no opinion.

Views were somewhat divided over the issue of the state reducing public pensions, wages and/or health care, rather than increasing taxes to pay for them, as 53.30 percent said yes, 40.63 percent said no, and 6.07 percent had no opinion.

The topic of grocery stores selling wine – even if it meant some neighborhood liquor stores might be put out of business – received the survey’s first majority negative response, as 30.96 percent replied yes, 56.99 percent answered no, and 12.05 percent chose no opinion as their reply.

Regarding the state Legislature increasing personal income taxes for those households earning $250,000 annually rather than reduce state spending, 50 percent said yes, 44.33 percent said no, and 5.67 percent had no opinion.

For the first multi-part question, an overwhelming number of respondents – 77.02 percent – supported reinstating the death penalty for the most heinous crimes, and 44.34 percent indicated support for allowing the medicinal use of marijuana. Likewise, a narrow majority – 48.93 percent – opposed taxpayer-funded embryonic stem cell research, and, by a large margin, opposed same-sex marriage and stricter gun control laws, at 70.19 and 70.60 percent, respectively.

Term limits for leadership positions in both houses of the state Legislature proved especially popular, as 87.99 percent of respondents were in support of them, 6.95 percent were opposed, and 5.06 percent registered no opinion. Enactment of term limits for all elected officials did not fare as well, as 56.35 percent of respondents supported it, 32.71 percent opposed, and 10.94 percent had no opinion on the matter.

When it came to ranking issues on a basis of their importance, the top three – out of a potential 10 – were high taxes at 69.66 percent, jobs and the economy at 59.51 percent, and health care at 47.14 percent.

Without question, your views and opinions are the lifeblood of our representative democracy. Knowing what matters to you helps me ensure your voice is heard loud and clear at the State Capitol. Our government always works best when it takes the time to listen to the people it serves. Again, thank you to all who participated in my 2009 Legislative Survey.

As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us.