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New Yorkers clamor for change in Albany: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet during the recession are clamoring for change in how lawmakers in the state capital Albany conduct business, according to a survey released on Monday.

Seventy-five percent of 805 voters surveyed between November 12 and 17 for the latest Marist poll said the state needs a new road map, as it is moving in the wrong direction.

The poll comes as lawmakers haggle over ways to eliminate a $3.2 billion deficit that the state comptroller and Moody's Investors Service warn could create a severe cash crunch and even lead to a downgrade of the state's credit rating.

Like many U.S. states, New York has been hit hard by the recession as revenues have tumbled and social costs rise.

"Albany is not a good place for politicians right now," said Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Poll. "Voters are dissatisfied with how things are being run and want change."

Governor David Paterson berated lawmakers over the weekend for their failure to agree on action to close the budget gap, warning that failure to come up with responsible cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures could have serious consequences.

New York is facing a cash crunch in December, when it will need about $3.6 billion in cash to pay its bills.

"Payment delays could create a trickle-down effect on local governments and service providers in every region of New York as those organizations continue to face similar revenue shortfalls of their own," Paterson said in a statement released on Sunday.

"A credit rating downgrade means it will be more expensive for the State to borrow money. As a result, more of our limited resources will be dedicated to paying back bondholders, rather than providing critical services," he said.

The Marist poll found 71 percent of those surveyed want major changes to how Albany operates, while 11 percent believe the system is broken and beyond repair.

Paterson's rating at 20 percent is low, but the state Senate and Assembly are faring badly too, the poll found.

Forty-eight percent of those polled believe the Senate is performing poorly, and 42 percent said they would not vote for their current representative if elections were held today.

The Assembly is out of favor with 47 percent of voters and 43 percent say they would not vote for the incumbent if elections were held today.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ciara Linnane; Editing by Dan Grebler)