A new poll shows that large majorities of Oklahoma voters favor stopping this year’s income tax cut and restoring a 6.65 percent top income tax rate for the wealthiest households to ease the state budget emergency. Solid majorities of both Republicans and Democrats favor these revenue measures. Other measures to deal with the budget crisis with strong majority support include accepting federal funds for covering the uninsured and improving collection of online sales taxes.
At the same time, large majorities of voters oppose measures that would close the budget hole on the back of low- and moderate-income families: 59 percent of voters oppose eliminating broad-based tax credits like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, the state Child Tax Credit, and the state Sales Tax Relief Tax Credit. Nearly as many Republicans (54 percent) are against the idea of eliminating these credits as Democrats (59 percent), and there is even greater opposition from Independents (75 percent).
The poll of 500 Oklahoma registered voters was commissioned by Oklahoma Policy Institute and conducted by nationally-respected opinion research firm Global Strategy Group. The full poll results and a memo from Global Strategy Group are available here.
“Voters understand that the state budget has been cut to the bone, and it is time to raise revenue to protect state services from further cuts,” the Global Strategy Group memo said. “Voters are clear in their support for asking the wealthiest Oklahomans to pay more of their fair share to adequately fund state services.”
When asked which strategy should be the highest priority to address the state budget shortfall, 56 percent of voters favor increasing state revenues by raising taxes and reducing tax breaks, compared to just 15 percent who favor cutting funds for education, health care, public safety, and other state services. With Oklahoma facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next year, lawmakers are unlikely to avoid deep cuts to services without some kind of tax increase.
“The poll shows that lawmakers will be backed by strong popular support if they increase revenue to deal with the budget emergency,” said Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Executive Director David Blatt. “There’s a clear path to get us out of this mess, if lawmakers choose to take it.”
A recent report by Oklahoma Policy Institute shared 16 recurring revenue options that lawmakers can use to prevent budget cuts, including several of the options covered in this poll.
“There’s just six weeks left for lawmakers to pass a plan to get us through this budget crisis,” said Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Policy Director Gene Perry. “Meanwhile, schools are planning hundreds of teacher layoffs due to budget cuts. Cuts to state health funding threaten to put dozens of nursing homes and rural hospitals out of business. And that’s just scratching the surface of what will happen if Oklahoma doesn’t bring in new revenue.”
“It’s past time for lawmakers to make a plan with real revenue options that don’t put the burden on struggling families,” said Perry. “What the voters are asking for is clear if our elected leaders decide to listen.”
Global Strategy Group is an American public affairs and research firm with clients that include Fortune 100 companies and national political leaders, associations and nonprofits. Oklahoma Policy Institute is an independent non-profit that provides information and analysis about state policy issues. The survey was conducted on April 4-6, 2016 with 500 registered voters in Oklahoma. The results have a margin of error of +/-4.4%, and care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the expected electorate are properly represented based on past voter turnout statistics.