March 14, 2012
Wesley Burt

Poll finds Oklahomans willing to reform state spending

The majority of likely Oklahoma voters polled support a variety of reforms that analysts estimate would save the state of Oklahoma money, according to a recent SoonerPoll study.

The survey asked respondents whether they supported implementing cost saving reforms in several areas of annual state spending. In each of the four areas polled, majorities of 55 percent or more supported implementing the cost saving reforms.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) created a list of what OCPA analysts consider to be, waste, inefficiencies and non-core services in state spending. OCPA holds that the cost saving reforms outlined in the list pave the way for an income tax phase out that does not require an increase in other taxes.

The questions polled in the SoonerPoll survey were drafted from that list.

Refer to the topline results to see the exact wording of the questions

The cost saving reform that garnered the most support was implementation of more rigorous performance reviews of state employees and better oversight of agency hiring and staffing levels.

After being told that, by implementing the reforms, an estimated 3-6 percent of the state workforce could be reduced, saving over $40 million annually, 73 percent of respondents said they should be implemented.

When respondents were asked about the $7.95 million the state spent from FY-2001 to FY-2011 subsidizing losses on state golf courses, 70.8 percent said the policy should be reformed.

Another question asked respondents whether the state should introduce competitive bidding for health benefit providers, an optional competitive health savings account for employees and measures to stop the overpayment of health benefits.

Results show that 69 percent of respondents were in favor of implementing the reforms, which, according to OCPA analysts, would save an estimated $75 to $100 million a year.

The reform which received the least support was a new stipulation that Career Techs in Oklahoma with sufficient local funds to operate would no longer receive additional state dollars. Results indicate that 54.6 percent supported the reform, which analysts estimate would save the state somewhere between $2 and $10 million annually.

Additional crosstab analysis reveals that all the reforms polled have broad bipartisan support.

“With Oklahoma government spending at an all-time high, it’s encouraging to see that voters support these common-sense reforms,” said Brandon Dutcher, OCPA’s vice president for policy., Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. conducted the scientific poll of 500 Likely Oklahoma voters were selected at random and administered the survey via live telephone interview between Feb. 8, and Feb. 23, 2012. The margin of error is ±4.38 percentage points.

Wesley Burt
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Wesley Burt