What’s on the minds of Georgia voters

Every year after the Legislature adjourns, 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 survey results are always 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, remains 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, 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 is government debt. “I’m not allowed to spend recklessly and neither should government.” Another said his main concern is socialism. “You cannot outspend your income and remain stable.” Still 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.”

Another said his primary concern was “the economy and the lack of concern for it by some legislators.”

Still another said, “Do whatever is necessary to improve the economy and create jobs!” One respondent was more to the point — “My main concern? Jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.”

Most of the comments on health care were focused on the pending national health care legislation and the unknown consequences.

On gas prices, there appeared to be no unknowns — “My main concern is tax breaks for big oil,” one person wrote. Another said his main concern was “America’s total dependence on oil for energy.”

Other areas of concern were public schools, illegal immigration and budget cuts.

Interestingly, at least to me, was the lack of mention of transportation issues. Only five respondents listed traffic or roads as one of their primary concerns.

State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, represents coastal Georgia.