Oklahomans prefer spending cuts to increase in taxes or fines and fees

By Wesley Burt, SoonerPoll

Published: 02-Dec-2010

A recent SoonerPoll found that the majority of Oklahomans prefer spending cuts as the primary way of dealing with budget problems as opposed to increased taxes or fines and fees.

When put against a raise in taxes, spending cuts were preferred by 85.5 percent of Oklahomans.  Though more Oklahomans were prepared to accept increased fines and fees, a large majority, 72.2 percent, of Oklahomans still preferred spending cuts.

SoonerPoll asked a similar question in March and found that 77.3 percent of Oklahomans preferred spending cuts to a raise in taxes or fees to help relieve the strains of a budget shortfall.  When asked as two separate questions on the most recent poll, spending cuts gain ground when pitted against only a raise in taxes and lose ground against only a raise in fines and fees.

Partisanship of the respondents did influence decisions, of those who consider themselves very liberal only 60.7 percent preferred spending cuts to a raise in taxes compared to 93.3 percent of those who consider themselves very conservative.

“The debate about taxes and the liberals view of increasing taxes in order to help the less fortunate through governmental spending is losing its appeal — even among liberals,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “When nearly two out of every three self-identified liberals in Oklahoma believe in spending cuts before raising taxes, I think we’re beginning to see a real change in how voters views the effectiveness of government programs.”

When the results of the survey are compared to the results of a Rasmussen poll taken just weeks before, Oklahoma responses trend more conservative with regards to a raise in taxes and about average on a raise in fines and fees.

Nationally, 77 percent of respondents feel it is better to cut spending than raise taxes compared to 85.5 percent of Oklahomans with the same opinion.  The same national poll found that 71 percent of respondents think it is better to cut spending than raise fines and fees, 72.2 percent of Oklahomans agree.

Interestingly, respondents living in either Tulsa or Oklahoma City were more likely to prefer spending cuts than respondents living in the rest of the state.  The most drastic difference is found between respondents living in the 2nd Congressional District, Represented by Congressman Dan Boren, and those living in any other district.

In Boren’s district, 78.6 percent of respondents supported spending cuts when compared to a tax increase while 65.2 percent supported spending cuts when compared to a fines and fees increase — margins 6.9 points and 7.4 points lower than any other district respectively.

“Rural areas of the state, while socially conservative, still believe — more so than urban dwellers — that government programs can be effective in addressing issues in rural areas and providing services that may not necessarily be available in rural as opposed to urban areas,” Shapard said.

“But, the numbers are still overwhelming in favor of cutting spending first, even in rural areas.”

Note: SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 518 likely voters from Nov. 5 – 11. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.