Voters overwhelmingly favor schools, core functions over wind subsidies
More than four out of five Oklahoma voters would prefer the state’s tax dollars be spent on education rather than costly wind subsidies, according to the latest SoonerPoll.
More than 92 percent of respondents said they were concerned about the state’s ability to fund core government functions while it is facing a nearly $900 million budget shortfall. The same percentage claimed education as their top concern, followed closely by public safety and funding for roads and bridges.
"I expected to find Oklahoma likely voters more supportive of funding schools and other core government functions than wind subsidies," said Bill Shapard, SoonerPoll's chief analyst, "but I did not expect the numbers to be this big."
[box][QUESTION] Oklahoma is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $900 million this year, after dealing with a $1.3 billion budget hole last year. How concerned are you about the state’s ability to fund core government functions like education, public safety and repairs for roads and bridges?
1. Very concerned71.62. Somewhat concerned21.1COMBINED CONCERN92.73. Don't know/Refused [DNR]1.94. Somewhat unconcerned4.25. Strongly unconcerned1.1COMBINED UNCONCERN5.3
The poll showed nearly 83 percent of voters think wind subsidies should be eliminated by the end of the year, since Oklahoma already has surpassed its renewable energy goal.
[box][QUESTION] Oklahoma has offered subsidies to wind developers since 2003, helping the state because No. 4 in the nation for wind energy. Oklahoma already has surpassed its 15 percent renewable energy goal, while out-of-state wind companies continue to collect on those subsidies. Do you think it’s time to end these costly payouts?
1. Yes, right away61.62. At the end of the year21.3COMBINED BY END OF YEAR OR SOONER82.93. No16.54. Don't know/Refused [DNR]0.6
More than 82 percent of Oklahoma voters said lawmakers should choose to fund education over continuing to subsidize wind development, according to the poll. Support for education was high among both Republicans (81 percent) and Democrats (84 percent).
Eighty-five percent of respondents from the Oklahoma City area favored education over wind subsidies, as did 77 percent in the Tulsa area resident and almost 84 percent of those in the rest of the state.
The number of respondents favoring education exceeded 78 percent in all five U.S. Congressional districts, led by Rep. Frank Lucas’ western Oklahoma district at 88 percent.
The poll also showed that nearly 84 percent of respondents believe Oklahoma teachers, whose average salaries are among the lowest in the nation, deserve to be paid more. More than 76 percent said Oklahoma should spend more money on education.
Lastly, Oklahoma likely voters also want fairness in the taxation of energy production in the state. When asked if the state should generate tax revenues from wind production like it does from oil and gas production, 83 percent believed it should.
[box][QUESTION] Did you know there is no production tax on wind in Oklahoma? Should Oklahoma generate tax revenue from wind production, like it does from oil and natural gas production?
1. Yes83.52. No7.74. Don't know/Refused [DNR]8.8
"Any taxpayer funds spent toward the development of one industry, in this case, the huge subsidies to out-of-state wind companies, is less monies that can be spent toward education and other core government functions. It's as simple as that." said Shapard. "Our elected leaders at the state capitol, who seem to only be talking about raising new taxes or cutting government spending, have missed this point."
About the Poll
SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, asked these questions of Oklahoma likely voters and were written by SoonerPoll.com. The poll were commissioned by the Windfall Coalition.
The scientific study was conducted from March 3 - 21, 2017 with 605 likely Oklahoma voters selected at random statewide from a tri-frame of both landline telephone and cell phones, plus a online panel from Research Now. The sample was weighted by age, political party, and congressional district in order to reflect the Oklahoma likely voter population for a general election. The weighting was conducted using a 'layered technique.'
The sample reflects the traditional demographical profile of the Oklahoma likely voter with roughly half of respondents identifying as conservative and attending religious services once or more per week. The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 3.82 percent.
This poll not only conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls but exceeds the standard disclosure with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.