New poll finds Oklahoma voters want comprehensive revenue deal in special session

A new poll shows a large majority of Oklahoma voters (67 percent) want lawmakers to pass a comprehensive revenue plan in special session that avoids further cuts and funds a teacher pay raise and other critical needs. That compares to just 15 percent of voters who want only a tobacco tax increase without other revenue options and just 11 percent who say the legislature should not pass revenues and allow budget cuts to take effect. Increasing the cigarette tax, raising income tax rates on the highest earners, ending the capital gains tax break, and increasing the initial oil and gas production tax are all options for raising new revenue that a majority of Oklahomans support.

The poll of 400 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.

“Oklahomans are not happy with how the legislature has been dealing with taxes in recent years, and their priority is not lower taxes,” the Global Strategy Group memo said. “Instead, voters want to see the state find the revenue to make investments that will ensure Oklahoma has a well-trained workforce, that will provide teachers a pay raise, and that will expand access to health care.”

The poll found multiple revenue options have majority support from voters. The most popular (63 percent support) is an income tax increase on incomes over $200,000. Similar support (62 percent) exists for a $1.50 cigarette tax increase. Majorities also support ending the capital gains tax break (55 percent) and restoring the 7 percent gross production tax rate (55 percent). All of the revenue options in the poll were more popular than never raising any taxes, which was supported by less than one in four voters (24 percent).

“It’s clear from this poll that lawmakers have popular, sensible options to fix the budget if they’re willing to stand up to the special interests and ideologues who want to block the people’s will,” said Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Executive Director David Blatt.

Oklahomans are tired of tax policies that starve the budget and prevent investment in critical services. In the poll, 69 percent disapprove of how the legislature has handled tax issues in recent years, with a majority (52 percent) strongly disapproving. Nearly three-quarters of voters, including two-thirds of Republicans, think lowering taxes should not be the top priority of the legislature. Majorities of Republicans (50 percent), Democrats (65 percent), and Independents (63 percent) think increasing teacher pay should be the top priority.

“Oklahoma voters are calling for solutions, not more excuses for why we aren’t paying teachers a living wage or funding other basic services,” said Blatt.

These poll results come from a sample that is majority Republican and conservative. Among respondents, 53 percent identified as Republican or leaning Republican, while 39 percent identified as Democrat or leaning Democrat. A majority (51 percent) identified as conservative, compared to 22 percent who identified as liberal.

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 September 28 – October 1, 2017 with 400 registered voters in Oklahoma. The results have a margin of error of +/-4.9%, 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.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

3 thoughts on “New poll finds Oklahoma voters want comprehensive revenue deal in special session

  1. The most popular (63 percent support) is an income tax increase on incomes over $200,000. I agree .Tobacco Tax , off the table ! support ending the capital gains tax break yes , and a 7% GPT along with 5% on other corporations such as wind ect. and no we here in the south were not polled must have been elites . as for common tax payers , Id say its back to the table ….

  2. Agree with the 63%. Stop the hands off of the oil and gas industry approach. The surrounding states are smart enough to know the industry can take an increase in the GPT. Stop thinking they’ll leave if we don’t play nice. They should be more than happy to fund our schools. I can’t figure out why Oklahoma doesn’t have a primiere PK-12 education system with all these fat cat oil executives pulling in the big salaries. It seems it would give them bragging rights to toot their horns about what a great school system they are responsible for.

  3. The current budget crisis was brought about by the steep drop in oil prices. All oil producing states faced the same challenges. Texas, which is the size of many small nations, fared better than the other oil producing states. I believe the teachers need a pay raise. However, the state can afford only a modest one at this time. These oil producing states who had grown accustom to a comfortable source of oil revenue must now be more frugal in their spending, including state educators. The tax increase required to balance the state budget and give teachers the pay raise they’re asking for would be more that most taxpayers of Oklahoma want to pay, or can afford to pay. In order to avoid further cuts in state spending, Louisiana passed the largest tax increase in state history. Being one of the most conservative states in the nation, I doubt this would pass here. I’ve found though the years that most tax increases are usually permanent. Tulsa County has some of the highest property taxes per capita in the nation and much of it is allocated to the schools. Why not use some of this for teachers salaries? There must be some soultion better than a history making tax increase. [Note from OK Policy: Tulsa County does not have some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Tulsa County has higher property taxes than other counties in Oklahoma, but lower compared to many other states. For example, Tulsa County’s property taxes are lower than every county in Kansas and most counties in Texas.]

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