Tax reform:

Wednesday, May 23, 2001 at 1:00am

The tide has turned on tax reform.

The right-wing talk show hosts who have exploited the tax crisis to boost their ratings are on the defensive. Steve Gill reportedly was heard complaining about how few people turned out to honk last week.

The legislators are largely ignoring their din and going about their business. The tactic, which might have worked a few years, has become war-worn and largely irrelevant. The horn honkers, rather than representing the majority, have become marginalized as a bunch of die-hards who want to stand in the way of a tax break for over half of Tennessee's taxpayers.

The groundbreaking poll that Sen. Bob Rochelle dramatically unveiled last week shows that 62 percent of the people support the Rochelle-Head income tax plan. If you've been out of town for a few weeks and missed the details, this plan abolishes the local option tax, sets a statewide sales tax of 7 percent, takes the sales tax off food, clothing and non-prescription drugs, and institutes a graduated income tax with very generous personal deductions which would allow a family of four to pay nothing on its first $41,000 of earnings. Most importantly, the plan gives a tax break to 60 percent of Tennesseans. In only one county

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