Most favor income tax, but with qualifications

Friday, May 18, 2001 at 1:00am

Only 16 percent of Davidson Countians (give or take 5.7 percent) think the General Assembly is doing a good job. And 59 percent of them think the state budget situation is serious.

So says a poll commissioned by Citizens for Fair Taxes, carried out by a University of Alabama professor and distributed Thursday by the sponsors of a controversial income tax plan.

Sens. Bob Rochelle (D-Lebanon), Gene Elsea (R-Spring City) and Rep. Tommy Head (D-Clarksville) unveiled the poll, which says a majority of Tennesseans would favor a graduated income tax:

* If it eliminates sales tax on grocery food, clothing and over-the-counter drugs;

* If lowers overall sales tax to 7 percent;

* If it eliminates the Hall income tax on dividends and interest;

* If it raises corporate income tax one-half percent to 6.5 percent;

* If it exempts the first $41,000 for a family of four;

* And if it goes to 6 percent for income over $105,000.

The question alone ran eight lines and takes 45 seconds to read.

Dr. Larry Powell of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said his company (phone professionals, not students) interviewed 3,000 registered voters in Tennessee by telephone. The margin of error for a group that large is plus or minus 1.8 percent.

The state was divided into 10 subgroups, including Davidson County, where 300 registered voters were interviewed (margin of error: plus or minus 5.7 percent).

According to the poll of the general public in the state, 61 percent believe the budget situation in the state is serious. Only 22 percent think the legislature is doing a good job.

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