By Senator Alice Nitka, Windsor County, March 26, 2010
Many of you who attended Town Meetings earlier this month may have had a chance to pick up a Doyle Poll survey form. Senator “Bill” Doyle who has been polling Vermonters since his first year in the Legislature some 41 years ago was at it again this year. He is currently tabulating the returns and has about 9000 surveys counted out of the twelve or thirteen thousand expected. Last year 15,000 were received.
Senator Doyle started polling the year then Governor Dean Davis, a Republican, proposed the first sales tax for VT as an alternative to increasing the income tax. The state had a deficit that needed to be addressed and Senator Doyle, himself, thought the income tax would be the better choice of the two. Senator Doyle sent to 1500 of his constituents in Washington County a survey with a stamped return envelope. He was surprised when the citizenry responding to his poll reported otherwise. Some letters that accompanied the returned surveys stated that they preferred the sales tax because everyone would share in the burden. Others said they were used to paying a sales tax in other states so it would be reasonable to have it here. Thus began the annual survey.
Governor Davis did get the 3% sales tax exclusive of food and clothing and went on the road to justify the tax and win his own re-election. His ad campaign showed him standing in a boat named VERMONT with a pail in hand and a voice over touting something like “Bailing out the Ship of State”. It was a very successful ad campaign and the Governor was elected to a second term. Governor Davis’ renown in Vermont, however, is not about the sales tax but about his environmental initiatives, including Act 250.
In Windsor County, thus far 18 towns have submitted enough responses to be tabulated as well as the Hartford Memorial Middle School 7th and 8th grade Social Studies classes. Generally about 14 or 15 towns out of the 24 Windsor County towns respond. The poll while not scientific provides some very good numbers as to how the state’s citizens are feeling about the frequently reported topics in the news. Some questions are on the poll annually while others are one timers. 2008, 2009 and 2010 all had a question about extending VT Yankee/Entergy’s License beyond 2012. In 2008, 4888 responses were yes, 3521 were no and 2849 were not sure. In 2009, responses were 40% yes, 40% no and 18.85%, not sure. In 2010, out of 9,116 counted thus far, 2899 were yes, 4722 were no and 1307 were not sure.
Some other questions of interest with statewide results were:
Ban texting while driving?
Yes 8691, No 297, Not Sure 57
Ban cell phones while driving?
Yes 6725, No 1856, Not Sure 436
Pass a law to limit car and truck idling?
Yes 4684, No 3123, Not Sure 1147
Are you satisfied with your health insurance and cost?
Yes 3686, No 4891, Not Sure 379
Are local food and farmers’ markets important?
Yes 8078, No 559, Not Sure 404
Reduce prison population through alternatives for non-violent offenders?
Yes 6064, No 1795, No Sure 1122
Is President Obama doing a good job?
Yes 4897, No 2897, Not Sure 1198
If you would like results for your town or results for the other questions, please feel free to give me a call.
Bills are moving around fast and being changed as they go from committee to committee. The changes aren’t available on the web site until the bill goes to the floor.
View daily committee schedules, the House and Senate floor calendars and all the bills at www.leg.state.vt.us Please feel free to contact me at home, 228-8432; at the State House, 1-800-322-5616; at [email protected] or at PO Box 136, Ludlow, VT 05149.