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Doyle Poll released

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Every year, when the ground thaws, and the sap begins to run, lawmakers get a fresh look at the state's political grassroots.

On Town Meeting Day, Senator Bill Doyle, R-Washington County, asks residents across the state a series of questions.

Health issues prevented the 88-year-old and 45-year Statehouse veteran from his usual seat, but not from releasing the poll results Monday.

"It was a very strong turnout as usual, issues this year were very interesting," said Doyle.

The 45th Doyle Survey shows Vermonters concerned about water quality and opiate abuse. Respondents reported a lack of support for a payroll tax, but split on a potential sugary drink tax.

Doyle says the common thread is the conviction that Vermont has a spending problem.

"I think that's the major message and I think the people who are grappling with the budget are well aware of that," said Doyle.

"I was surprised how close Vermonters are on the sugar-sweetened beverage tax," said Rep. Shap Smith, D- Vt. House Speaker.

Smith says the results largely confirm the message he and others received from voters in November. He says, while not scientific, the survey gives lawmakers another snapshot of the state's political landscape to consider.

"Mostly though, we talk to our constituents to get a feeling of what they care about," said Smith.

Smith says Doyle's influence is felt throughout the building in no small part because he taught so many of the people elected or appointed to work here.

Doyle says he's working hard to get back to the Statehouse

"Just as soon as possible, I'm ready to go," said Doyle.

But, present or not, his presence in Vermont's political debate is always felt.

Respondents did not give a good report card to Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, with 57 percent indicating he's not doing a good job, while only 21 percent defended his performance.

That question was not asked in last year's poll, but Doyle says Shumlin performed well on a similar one in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

A spokesperson for the Governor declined to weigh in on that question, or any other in the survey.
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