Every year after the legislative session ends, I send out a newsletter to constituents reporting on the activities of our session and asking for feedback on issues important to them.
Although not scientific, the results of the survey always are interesting and give my fellow legislators and me an idea of where we need to be concentrating.
This year I asked two questions. The first question dealt with tax reform, which was discussed by the legislature and, although not acted on this year, is an issue that will be addressed in the future.
Specifically I asked, “Would you support or oppose eliminating the income tax and replacing it with a broad-based sales tax?”
Of the 237 responses that I received, 162 said that they would support such a proposal, 61 were opposed and 14 did not choose an answer.
One of the supporters of a broad-based sales tax said “Yes, I want sales tax for this and for education. Homeowners cannot continue to pay for all public education with property tax! Apartment renters should contribute — sales tax would do it.”
Another supporter said, “…with sales tax, everyone would have to pay if they purchase anything in the state, whereas some never pay income tax.”
In opposition to this proposal, one person wrote, “those with higher incomes will not be impacted as severely as lower incomes. Taxes on goods and services hurt people with lower incomes.”
The second question I asked was “Please tell me what concerns your family the most.”
The most popular response to this question was the national deficit and out-of-control spending by government.
One respondent said the thing that concerns his family the most was “... government debt — I’m not allowed to spend recklessly and neither should government.”
Another said, “Legislature spending money we do not have, or for things we really don’t need, and excess employees doing state duties — we need to spend less…”
The second most popular response was high taxes. As one person put it, “The problem is not just income tax. Add all the taxes we pay together, i.e., sales, property, income, Social Security, etc., and the average citizen pays up to half of his income in taxes — eliminate some forms of taxation!”
The next few items mentioned were about even in the number of responses — inflation, the economy, health care, jobs, gas prices and retiree issues (Social Security, cost of living, etc.).
One respondent said, “My main concern is rising taxes, gas and food — and income not keeping up with these increases.”
Or as another person put it, “Wages are not keeping up with the cost of living.”
Most of the comments on health care were focused on the pending national health-care legislation and the unknown consequences.
Included in the “other” category were a number of issues — gambling machines in service stations and convenience stores, drug testing for welfare and food-stamp recipients and the lack of accountability in our society.
Thanks to all those who took time out to respond. Our government, whether local, state or federal, depends on an engaged electorate who make sure their voices are heard.