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Cutting from schools is unpopular way to save money, poll says

A poll out today shows that New Yorkers don’t think legislators should cut education spending to make up the state’s $1-2 billion budget shortfall.

Only 6 percent of New Yorkers reached by the Siena Poll would cut education spending, while 69 percent would increase income taxes on the state’s highest earners, through a “millionaire’s tax” on those making more than $1 million a year.

The poll asked New Yorkers to select one of five options for how the state should make up the deficit: cut health care spending, cut education spending, increase taxes on the rich, increase other taxes, and don’t know/no opinion. The fewest respondents preferred cutting education spending.

The Assembly approved the millionaire’s tax back in August, but it won’t be discussed as planned at next month’s special legislative session to deal with the budget shortfall. Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver has abandoned his plan to push the tax during the special session because Wall Street’s crash has affected those who would be taxed, the New York Post reported today.

But Liz Benjamin at the Daily News reports that Silver says the option could resurface in the future. Back in August, it was estimated that the tax would raise state revenues by $2.6 billion annually, more than enough to close this year’s budget gap. Since then, earnings on Wall Street, which usually provides about 20 percent of the state’s annual revenue, have fallen precipitously.

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