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Gov. Christie Responds To Public Union Support Poll

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS 2) -- As those protests continue in Wisconsin, there's new evidence unions still have a strong foundation of support.

According to a new CBS News-New York Times poll, Americans surveyed oppose weakening the unions' collective bargaining rights by a margin of almost two to one: 60 to 30 percent.

Wisconsin Public Unions
Thousands of protesters rally at Wisconsin's legislature on Feb. 19, 2011 (credit: Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images)

"Some states are trying to take away some of the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Do you favor or oppose taking away some of the collective bargaining rights of these unions?" the poll asked.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said collective bargaining rights are not an issue in his state.

"I understand you guys, it's an entertaining story and you want to keep it going, so I'm sure you worded a poll in a way that kept it going." Christie said.

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Respondents were also asked "In order to reduce state budget deficits, do you favor or oppose cutting the pay or benefits of public employees?" The poll also showed 56 percent oppose cutting public employees' pay or benefits in order to reduce state budget deficits, while 37 percent support that approach.

The CBS poll also found that by a margin of almost two to one, 40 to 22 percent, respondents prefer increasing taxes over cutting state workers' benefits to cut state deficits. The other choices were "decrease financing for roads and public transportation," "decrease financing for education," and "no opinion."

In New Jersey, that sentiment was even more pronounced when it comes to taxing the wealthy. A staggering 72-percent of those surveyed in a new New Rutgers-Eagleton poll support increasing the so-called millionaires' tax to help close New Jersey's nearly $11-billion budget deficit.

Christie, who vetoed that measure last year, said he knows best what the state wants.

"I'm the governor. I think I got a better idea on public opinion in my state than CBS News does," Christie said.

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