Siena Poll: Voters Strongly Support Bail Changes, 90 Percent Say Crime is a ‘Serious’ Issue in New York

Mike Groll, Office of the Governor
February 1, 2023 – Albany – Governor Kathy Hochul presents her Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget proposal in the Red Room at the State Capitol. With the budget dues in matter of days, two budget proposals being debated have overwhelming bipartisan support – raising income taxes for those making at least $5 million and giving judges more discretion setting bail for those accused of serious crimes, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll.

With the clock ticking on the budget deadline, a large majority of voters from both parties strongly support a higher income tax on New Yorkers earning at least $5 million and changing the state’s controversial bail laws to give judges more discretion in setting pre-trial bail.  

Meanwhile, there is also strong opposition to a budget proposal that would give SUNY campus the ability to raise tuition by at least 3 percent. 

According to the latest Siena College poll, 76 percent of the 802 registered voters polled in mid-March support income taxes being raised for those who are making at least $5 million, compared to 19 percent who oppose it.

On another hot-button issue, 72 percent of all New York voters support the idea of judges being allowed to use more discretion when setting bail for those who are accused of committing serious crimes, compared to 20 percent who oppose the idea. 

There is also strong bipartisan support for banning flavored tobacco — 58 to 34 percent — as well as fiscal incentives to municipalities that meet a state-mandated increase in affordable housing stock, by a margin of 54 to 32 percent.  

The poll found strong bipartisan opposition —  64 to 30 percent — to a proposal allowing SUNY schools to raise tuition, according to the Siena College poll, which has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.

“As Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators work to pass a new state budget, two proposals being discussed enjoy strong bipartisan support and one has strong bipartisan opposition,” said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg. “More than three-quarters of voters support increasing the personal income tax for those making at least $5 million, including 64 percent of conservatives, and at least 60 percent of every other demographic group.

“And 72 percent of voters, up from 65 percent in January, support giving judges more discretion to set bail for those accused of serious crimes, including 76 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans,” Greenberg added.

One budget proposal would raise income taxes for those who are earning more than $5 million, with the tax rate increasing from 10.3% to 10.8%. And, for those earning more than $25 million, the income tax rate would jump from 10.9% to 11.4%. 

Another budget proposal would give SUNY University centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook the ability to impose a 6% tuition increase while most other SUNY schools would be able to implement a 3% tuition increase.

“Voters are more closely divided on several other issues,” Greenberg noted. “Mandates for electrification of new buildings is supported 49-40 percent. Increasing the MTA payroll tax divides voters evenly, 43-43 percent. “[And] providing health insurance for undocumented immigrants is opposed 49-44 percent, despite support from 64 percent of Democrats.”

Affordable housing and crime are also recognized by voters as serious problems that need to be addressed across New York and in their communities, base don the poll results. 

“For more than a year, at least 90 percent of voters have said crime is a serious problem in the state, at least 60 percent say very serious. For more than a year, at least 63 percent of voters have said crime is a serious problem in their community, at least 27 percent very serious. And today, 60 percent say they are concerned they would be a victim of crime, largely unchanged over the last year,” Greenberg said.

The Siena College Poll was conducted March 19-22, 2023, among 802 New York State registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.