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Georgia survey finds majority favors tax increase on wealthy; HOPE Scholarship income cap; Plan B for transportation.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal greets lawmakers as he leaves the House Chambers on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly on Thursday, March 29, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal greets lawmakers as he leaves the House Chambers on the last day of the Georgia General Assembly on Thursday, March 29, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATHENS, Ga. A Georgia political organization that presents itself as nonpartisan and grassroots has released a survey on a variety of different political issues including gay marriage, taxes and transportation.

The complete Better Georgia survey results, released Aug. 23, purports to show Georgia voters support progressive solutions to issues ranging from investing in public schools to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Georgia voters continue to support efforts to save the HOPE Scholarship.

"The survey reveals the strongest policy support, with 73 percent approval, for a public school trust fund to safeguard tax dollars for education. Georgia’s portion of education funding is nearly 25 percent less on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis than 10 years ago. During that decade, the state cut $1.1 billion from schools, costing a typical class more than $30,000 a year. Voters are feeling the impact of the austerity cuts and show strong support for a policy to preserve school budgets," a press release from the BetterGeorgia.com states.

Download the entire survey results HERE. http://BetterGeorgia.com/SurveyAugust2012Georgia

From the Better Georgia Press Release, here is a snapshot of the results:

T-SPLOST

After the mostly failed T-SPLOST referendum, respondents were unsure how to solve the state’s transportation problems, but are sure they want a "Plan B." Only 27 percent of respondents who live in a region that failed to pass the T-SPLOST say that Gov. Nathan Deal and legislators should do nothing more on transportation while 51 percent say that they should have another round of referendums or simply pass a statewide transportation plan without a public vote.

HOPE

Gov. Deal and Republican legislators have said they will not address growing problems facing the HOPE Scholarship program in the coming legislative session, but a clear majority of voters want the program fixed and agreed with suggestions on how to do it. Fifty-six percent of respondents support limiting the HOPE Scholarship to students who come from families making no more than $140,000 a year. 27 percent oppose such a fix. The $140,000 income cap is favored among Republican voters by 9 percentage points with 47 percent supporting the proposed fix and 37 percent opposing it. This marks the third consecutive Better Georgia survey showing overwhelming voter support of an income cap at some level. Previous surveys asked voters if they would support an income cap as low as $100,000. In January 61 percent of registered Georgia voters, and in March 56 percent, supported the measure.

TAXES

A majority of respondents supported policies that end corporate tax breaks or raise income taxes on high-income earners. 54 percent believe the best way to attract business is by making schools, roads and other infrastructure as strong as possible instead of aggressively competing with other states by offering special tax breaks and financial incentives to businesses. 34 percent support Georgia’s current policy of competing on tax breaks and incentives. More respondents – 48 percent to 43 percent -- said Georgia should invest in improving schools and infrastructure instead of keeping taxes and regulations as low as possible. Additionally, 57 percent of voters support raising the state income tax by one percentage point on people making more than $250,000 per year and 53 percent support raising taxes on corporations making more than $5 million per year.

ENVIRONMENT

Respondents overwhelmingly opposed Georgia Power releasing water used for cooling towers at coal-powered plants into the Chattahoochee River, with 75 percent saying Georgia Power should not be allowed to continue. Sixty-six percent of self-identified Republicans say Georgia Power should stop and only 20 percent say GPC should be allowed to continue.

Georgia power officials pointed out Friday the water utilized by their plants does not come in contact with any coal.

Respondents also preferred for Georgia Power to directly pay the costs of its nuclear power plant construction. In the survey, 79 percent supported having Georgia Power’s shareholders finance the construction costs.

Georgia Power doesn't have shareholders, though its parent company, the Southern Co., does. Georgia Power officials say that having ratepayers pay for the plant while construction is in progress will end up saving ratepayers $300 million in costs.

GAY MARRIAGE

57 percent of respondents favored granting legal rights to same-sex couples. 23 percent of voters supported legalizing gay marriage and 34 percent supported civil unions. 37 percent believed same-sex couples deserve no legal recognition. Support for granting increased rights to gay couples is at 63 percent among independent respondents.

The Better Georgia survey of 1,654 registered Georgia voters was conducted August 15-18, 2012, by 20/20 Insight, LLC and has a 2.5 percent margin of error for registered voters and a 2.9 percent margin of error for likely voters.