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.