(Host) By a slim margin, Vermont voters favor shutting down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant when its license expires in 2012.
And they also support consolidating school districts to save money, even if that results in closing smaller schools.
VPR’s John Dillon has more from the VPR Vermont Poll.
(Dillon) The future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is one of several issues that have loomed large in the race for governor. And they’re on the minds of voters, as well.
Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin has campaigned hard against the 38-year-old plant. Shumlin orchestrated a vote in the state Senate last winter against a new 20 year license for the plant.
Like Shumlin, Brattleboro resident Ann Bolt also lives in Windham County, home to the Yankee reactor. She describes herself as a Shumlin supporter, and she’s equally skeptical of Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee.
(Bolt) "I think it needs to be shut down. It’s too old."
(Dillon) Bolt is among the 44 percent of those surveyed who oppose a new 20 year license for Yankee. Thirty-nine percent support continued operation for the nuclear plant, while 17 percent were undecided.
Willette Stone of Lyndonville also has concerns about the plant. But Stone wants it to keep operating for another 20 years.
(Stone) "I wish they would keep it on. But, but do some work in that place and get all of these leaks and so forth stopped. I hate to think of what we’re going to pay for electric if we get rid of it."
(Dillon) Stone is also worried about the rising cost of education. And she says the state ought to consolidate Vermont’s 278 school districts into 45 in order to save administrative costs.
(Stone) "I think we are in trouble in Vermont with schools. And I know the small schools would like to stay open, but it’s too hard to support all of them."
(Dillon) The VPR Vermont Poll shows that 45 percent support a school consolidation plan. Thirty-six percent were opposed, while 19 percent were undecided.
Peter Beck of Stowe was an educator and served on a school board, and says he sees both sides of the school consolidation issue. He says some districts probably can be combined, but…
(Beck) "Vermont, because of its geography is a very difficult place to have large school districts in. The travel, and putting kids on a bus for two or three hours a day doesn’t do them any good I don’t think."
(Dillon) Health care also remained a top focus for Vermonters, with 34 percent in favor of government-financed coverage for all, similar to Medicare. Twenty-six percent prefer the current system of private insurance and 27 percent support a public option similar to the state Catamount Health program.
Peter Beck is on Medicare and says he’s benefited greatly from government health insurance. But he’s skeptical about a single payer system.
(Beck) "I definitely would be opposed to a single payer type system for Vermont. And let’s face it, the law of the land now as passed by the federal health care plan, Vermont really can’t do much until 2017."
(Dillon) The poll asked Vermonters to rank what they see as the top issues facing Vermont today, and the economy was far and away the top concern.
But while 58 percent said the economy and jobs are the most important challenges facing the state, few people said they’re actually having trouble making ends meet. Seventy percent said that despite the down economy, financial conditions had not forced them to change plans for college or retirement.
For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.
(Host outro) The VPR Vermont Poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research of Washington, D-C.
Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 registered voters by telephone. They said they were likely to vote.
The statewide results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The VPR Vermont Poll was made possible by the VPR Journalism Fund.
VPR Vermont Poll Results