A poll released today by the Oklahoma Advocacy Project reveals strong opposition among Oklahomans to proposals for reducing and eliminating the state income tax. The poll finds that large majorities oppose a tax cut if it means less funding for schools, roads, and public safety. The poll also shows voter concern that cutting the income tax will lead to higher sales and property taxes to make up for lost revenues.
The poll reveals that while voters may support phasing out the income tax in theory, support evaporates when voters are presented with concrete choices and consequences involved in proposals to reduce or eliminate the tax cuts. In particular:
- A plurality of voters (42 percent) oppose decreasing the state income tax and paying for it by eliminating popular tax credits like the child tax credit and the sales tax relief credit, as has been proposed by Governor Fallin and some legislators. Opposition to the proposal increases significantly (rising 28 points to 70% oppose), when voters are informed that the proposal will increase taxes for most families with children and seniors who earn under $50,000 a year while the largest tax cuts will go to the wealthiest five
percent of Oklahoma households.
- 81 percent of voters oppose reducing funding for public schools in order to pass on the savings in the form of a tax cut. 80% oppose cutting Oklahoma’s public safety services to provide a tax cut, while 78 percent oppose cutting funding for roads, bridges, and highways. Even among Republicans, over 70 percent of respondents oppose cuts to these these services in favor of tax cuts.
- A strong majority of voters (70 percent) agree that “phasing out the state income tax will lead to higher
property taxes and sales taxes to provide necessary funding for public services like schools, roads, and public safety. This belief was shared by a large majority of Republicans (59 percent), Independents (69 percent) and Democrats (79 percent) in the survey. When voters are asked whether they support phasing out the state income tax if it meant higher property taxes and sales taxes, opposition to an income tax phase-out rises to 67 percent.
In a release accompanying the result, Toby Friesen, Director of the Oklahoma Advocacy Project, stated:
The poll shows that Oklahomans understand there is no free lunch. They recognize that tax cuts will lead to even more challenges for our already over-burdened schools, public safety officers, and road networks. And they clearly understand that services have to be paid for somehow. If we do away with the income tax, we will end up with higher property taxes, like in Texas and other no-income tax states, or we will add to our already high sales taxes.
The poll also found voters strongly convinced that education and workforce training is seen as a greater priority for Oklahoma’s prosperity than income tax reductions. When asked to choose between the two, Oklahoma voters believe that the best way to attract businesses to locate and invest in Oklahoma is with an “educated and well trained workforce” (70 percent ) – much more so than “low personal income tax rates” (21 percent).
The poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group, a leading national public opinion firm whose clients include elected officials across the country, major non-profit institutions, and Fortune 500 companies. They surveyed 603 registered voters in Oklahoma between May 3-6. The margin of error in the poll is +/- 4.0%. The Oklahoma Advocacy Project is a non-profit that was formed to advocate on behalf of working Oklahomans. The organization supports reasonable policies that create economic prosperity for all Oklahomans and that protect core government services.
Click here for the Global Strategies memo on the tax cuts, which includes their topline survey results, the Oklahoma Advocacy project press release, and a set of graphs displaying key findings. You can find comprehensive information and materials on the tax debate at our Tax Reform Information page and find out how you can make your voice heard in this debate on our Take Action page.