A new poll finds that Oklahoma voters strongly support eliminating tax breaks for horizontal drilling in order to provide more funding for education, public safety, highways, and other state needs.
Nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) oppose providing tax breaks to oil and gas companies that use the horizontal drilling process, while less than a third support the tax break (28 percent) after hearing short arguments in favor of and against them. Ending the horizontal drilling tax break is a popular idea across party lines, with a majority of Democrats (73 percent), independents (75 percent), and Republicans (51 percent) all opposed to the tax break.
Oklahoma currently taxes horizontal wells at only 1 percent for the first 48 months of production, compared to 7 percent for traditional production. The tax break cost the state $164 million last year and is projected to increase to $251 million this year.
At a time when Oklahoma is facing a large budget shortfall and the prospect of another round of budget cuts to critical public services, a strong majority of voters (64 percent) favor “eliminating the tax break in order to provide more funding for education, public safety, highways and other state needs.” Only 21 percent “want to keep the tax breaks for horizontal drilling” and just 7 percent say the revenue should be used to pay for an income tax cut. Support for eliminating the tax break so as to allow for increased funding for services has increased by 5 points compared to a similar poll conducted last year.
Other results from the same poll found that support for an income tax cut in Oklahoma is declining and that strong majorities of Oklahomans oppose a tax cut that will mean less funding for education and other services, and that will provide minimal benefit to the average household.
The poll was conducted for Oklahoma Policy Institute by Global Strategy Group among 610 voters registered in Oklahoma on March 3-6, 2014. The margin of error on the poll is +/- 4.0%. Global Strategy Group is a leading national public opinion firm whose clients include elected officials across all levels of government, major non-profit institutions, and Fortune 500 companies.