Tags Posts tagged with "soonerpoll"


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Most likely Oklahoma voters oppose the sale of water to out-of-state districts and communities, such as Texas, according to a recent SoonerPoll study.

Results indicate that 65 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled oppose selling water to out of state districts and communities, compared to 29.3 percent who support selling.  Just 5.7 percent of respondents had no opinion.

Opposition to water sales has increased by more than 10 percentage points since the last time SoonerPoll polled the question.

“I knew the margin was huge in people opposing out-of-state water sales, because growth will go where the water goes and we want growth right here in Oklahoma,” said Sen. Jerry Ellis, D–Valliant.

Sen. Ellis and Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, are carrying HB 2552, a piece of legislation which would require any act relating to waters and water rights receive approval from the Oklahoma voters in a state referendum, as well as consent of the Oklahoma Legislature.

“This is very important, it’s the most valuable natural resource,” Ellis said.  “We’re saying that the final decision should be with the voters in the state of Oklahoma and it should be on the ballot to the voters.”

In recent years, decisions about selling water out-of-state have been steeped in controversy.

Many communities in north Texas have experienced major growth in the last decade.   However, to sustain their growth, those communities need a valuable resource: water.

To satisfy that need, Texas communities turned their eyes upon southeastern Oklahoma’s free-flowing waters, but controversy arose when Oklahoma refused to sell.

A 2006 moratorium on out-of-state water sales passed in the Oklahoma legislature sparked the Tarrant (Texas) Regional Water District to file a lawsuit which still hasn’t been resolved.

See Complete Data and Analysis

Ellis said that protecting our natural resources for future growth is important, but there are other factors which complicate the lawsuit.

“This gets into the Red River Compact,” Ellis said. “We have a compact that takes in four states, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, you have to think of the people downstream, and I can assure you all of this water that you’re talking about is allocated and compacted water.”

Ellis said the Red River Compact is the reason Oklahoma has won against the Tarrant Regional Water District four times in federal court; three times in U.S. District Court, and one time in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

“When you start pulling water out before it goes into the Red River, you are going to change the quality and quantity of everything that is left,” Ellis said.  “In other words, you’re going to affect irrigation in SW Arkansas, you’re going to affect Shreveport, La., you are going to affect everything down stream.”

In January, the Tarrant Regional Water District asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning the 10th Circuit U.S Court of Appeals ruling.  The U.S. Supreme Court agreed and justices are expected to consider the water district’s petition at a private conference on March 23.

“It’s the lifeblood of any state or people, and we just want to make sure that Oklahoma has enough water to grow in the future,” Ellis said.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

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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.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.   SoonerPoll.com 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 plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.

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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters polled say they would support legislation that would require the Oklahoma state legislature to abide by the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts, according to a recent SoonerPoll survey.

The Open Meetings and Open Records Acts make up a set of rules which are designed to ensure transparency in government. Currently the Oklahoma state legislature is exempt from compliance.

When asked whether they would support or oppose legislation that would bring the state legislature into compliance, 85 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled said they would support the legislation.

By comparison, 7.8 percent said they opposed the legislation and 7.2 percent had no opinion.

“The people of Oklahoma know that it is absolutely hypocritical for the state legislature to make laws to have transparency of government entities and then to exempt themselves from those exact same laws,” Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said.

“It’s not right and the people know it.”

In February, Murphey introduced HB 1085, which, if passed, would make the Legislature subject to the Open Records and Open Meetings Acts.

Murphey said that anytime taxpayer dollars are spent to produce a record or to have a meeting, taxpayers have a right to observe those proceedings and to view and keep those records.

“Overtime, those [Open Records and Open Meetings] laws have worked out very well and it has become an important part of the ethics of the Oklahoma governance structure,” Murphey said. “It’s far past time for those same laws to be applied to the Oklahoma legislature.”

HB1085 passed in the Government Modernization Committee last week on an 8-3 vote and is now eligible to be heard on the House Floor.

Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, helped author the legislation and intends to introduce the bill in the Senate if it is successful in the House.

“Sen. Holt in the senate made a big stride forward when he came out in support of it,” Murphey said. “That means that we now have support and advocates in both the chambers, which is very important.”

Murphey said he is hopeful that the legislation will be passed despite opposition from legislators who have “become comfortable with the secrecy that surrounds the proceedings.”

Additional analysis of the data reveals bipartisan support for removing the open records and meetings acts exemption for the Legislature.

Crosstab analysis indicates that 85 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats would support legislation.  Independents showed the most support with 93.1 percent in favor of removing the exemption.

Similarly, 84.5 percent of conservatives, 90.7 percent of liberals and 85.9 percent of moderates said they would support legislation to remove the exemption.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum leads the pack of Republican primary candidates in Oklahoma, but voters think some candidates are better than others when it comes to certain attributes, according to a recent SoonerPoll study.

Results indicate that a plurality of likely Republican primary voters think Santorum is the best candidate when it comes to honesty and ability to understand the problems facing people like them.  However, pluralities of Republican voters said that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is the strongest leader with the best experience.

Despite believing that other candidates are better suited for the Republican nomination, a plurality of Republican voters said that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has the best chance to beat President Barack Obama in the general election.

SoonerPoll CEO, Bill Shapard Jr., presented the results at a Republican primary panel discussion held Tuesday.

Shapard said that as voters begin to coalesce around a particular candidate in a typical election, it is rare to find a different candidate leading in particular attributes.

“When people begin to pick a candidate, they think not only do they have the best chance of winning, they think they are also the strongest leader, they also think that it’s somebody that understands the problems of people like them,” Shapard said.

“That is not the case here in Oklahoma.”

Republican Primary Panel Discussion

On February 28, 2012, SoonerPoll.com released GOP primary poll results and hosted a discussion panel to start a dialogue in the media.  The panel featured guests Keith Gaddie, Sheryl Lovelady, and Karl Ahlgren, as well as SoonerPoll CEO Bill Shapard.

Republican consultant Karl Ahlgren said he thinks the reason Romney is seen as the best candidate to beat Obama is because of the size of his campaign.

“Obviously Romney has the most money the most ability to get his message out and so that is what voters are looking at,” Ahlgren said.  “We may not like everything about him, but we feel like he is the best person that can represent us.”

Sheryl Lovelady, a former Democratic consultant, said that though a candidate’s ability to beat Obama has been an important characteristic for voters thus far, she doesn’t think it’s a sustainable characteristic for the future.

“At the end of the day, voters want to be for something and not just against something,” Lovelady said.

Political Science Professor Keith Gaddie agreed with Lovelady’s assessment and went on to say that he feels there is a race to the bottom in the GOP primary.

“It keeps moving so far to the right, and so far away from those issues that affect everyday voters,” Gaddie said. “It makes it hard for the GOP and the eventual nominee to move back to the center.”

Referring again to the recent results, Shapard pointed out that Romney does better among liberal and moderate Republicans, while Gingrich and Santorum lead among conservatives.

“The voters are really identifying well the ideological perspective of the candidates themselves and it is pretty much aligning that way,” Shapard said.

Download the Republican Primary Panel presentation or the toplines and crosstabs for the survey.

Lovelady echoed Gaddie’s earlier evaluation.

“The longer they run the more conservative they get and the more people in the electorate they disenfranchise,” Lovelady said.  ”It will be very interesting to see if they are so far out there that they can’t appeal then to the middle of the country.”

Other results from the same SoonerPoll study find three Republican primary candidates polling above 50 percent in favorability.

When asked whether they had favorable or unfavorable opinions of the candidates, 70.3 percent of respondents said they had favorable opinions of Rick Santorum, 57.3 percent had favorable opinions of Mitt Romney, and 55.6 percent had favorable opinions of Newt Gingrich.

Ron Paul was the only GOP candidate who had more unfavorable opinions than favorable opinions, with 49.3 percent unfavorable and just 35.7 percent favorable.

Sheryl Lovelady said the results highlight what has been the story of the 2012 Republican primary election from the beginning, “there is no real consensus among Republican voters.”

“We’ve seen consistently over a period of months and months and months that there is not one candidate that’s breaking away from the fray, Oklahoma is really no exception,” Lovelady said.

Keith Gaddie said that the up and down of the candidates is driven by the fact that none of them are satisfactory candidates for the majority of Republican voters.

“Absent some strong candidate who they find persuasive, these voters are falling back on those attributes of themselves that they look for in candidates,” Gaddie said. “In Oklahoma, because we have such a strong socially conservative base these voters are falling back to that core principles candidate, which in the current environment is Rick Santorum.”

Bill Shapard cautioned that though Santorum is the current front-runner in Oklahoma, this election cycle has seen the rise and fall of many GOP primary candidates.

“As a pollster I would only say that that’s where the numbers sit as of this moment and that is what we would probably anticipate would carry forward if the election were today,” Shapard said.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned this poll.  SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll Feb. 8 – 16, 2012.  The survey was administered via telephone interview to 300 likely Oklahoma voters who were selected at random.  All respondents who took the survey identified themselves as Republicans and said they planned to vote in the March 6th primary election.   The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.



Bill Shapard Jr., CEO of SoonerPoll.com, is the state’s leading media pollster, having conducted more publicly-released polls since 2006 in the state of Oklahoma than all other pollsters combined.  Bill is a frequent political commentator and has conducted the Tulsa World’s Oklahoma Poll since 2005.


Keith Gaddie, PhD, is a Political Science Professor at the University of Oklahoma and a frequent political commentator for many local, national and international media outlets. Keith is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of fourteen booksKeith and Kelly Damphousse (Sociology) are the newly appointed editors of Social Science Quarterly.


Sheryl Lovelady is Director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at the University of Oklahoma. For the past two decades, Lovelady has worked throughout the United States as a political consultant. Today, along with her role at OU, she owns a private communications and public policy firm.


 Karl Ahlgren, co-owner and general partner of AH Strategies, a Republican political relations firm with offices in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.  A 28-year veteran of Oklahoma government and politics, Ahlgren has a client list that includes more than 40 current members of the Oklahoma Legislature. Ahlgren served for 2-years as co-secretary of the State Senate during its historic tie.



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By Randy Krehbiel World Staff Writer

Oklahomans seem to be of two minds about Woody Guthrie.

They either like him, or they never heard of him.

Responding to a recent SoonerPoll.com survey, 52 percent of the 500 Oklahomans questioned said they have a favorable opinion of the Depression Era troubadour – but 41 percent had no opinion or didn’t know who Guthrie was.

Stanton Doyle, a senior program officer with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which is developing a Guthrie museum and archive in the Brady Arts District, said the first figure is “consistent with the feedback we get,” and the second is “a great opportunity” to introduce Guthrie to a new audience.

Born in 1912 in Okemah, Guthrie became an itinerant laborer and folk singer whose songs about the poor and working class made him a hero to many, while his unorthodox lifestyle and leftist politics turned many Oklahomans against him.

For decades, Okemah refused to acknowledge Guthrie, and he was not inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame until 2006.

Read the rest of this article at www.tulsaworld.com

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Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum leads the pack of Republican primary candidates in Oklahoma, according to a recent SoonerPoll survey.

If the election were held today, 38.5 percent of likely Republican voters who plan to participate in the March 6 GOP primary said they would cast their vote for Santorum.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would finish in second place with 23 percent.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who led Oklahoma when SoonerPoll last polled the race in December, fell to third place with just 18 percent.  Results indicate that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul would receive just 7.6 percent of the vote.

During the SoonerPoll survey fielding process, Santorum experienced a meteoric rise in the nationwide polls after sweeping the Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado primaries in early February.  Santorum has since eclipsed Romney as the nationwide front-runner in the Gallup Poll.

Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, says Santorum’s lead in the recent SoonerPoll and his recent national attention is not coincidental.

“When we last polled the race, Santorum received just 1.5 percent of the vote.  Since then he’s won the primary in Iowa which gave him the boost he needed to win several other key states,” Shapard said.  “Oklahomans are beginning to think that if people in other states think he can win, maybe we should too.”

See Complete Data and Analysis

Additional analysis reveals that Santorum is the favorite candidate of conservative Republicans.  Of those respondents who consider themselves conservative, 42.7 percent said they would vote for Santorum.

With 21.1 percent of conservative respondents said they would vote for him, Gingrich also finishes better among conservatives. By comparison, just 17.4 percent of conservative said they would vote for Romney.

“Results indicate that Santorum has what it takes to energize the Republican base in Oklahoma, but making sure that the more moderate and liberal Republicans get out and vote is also crucial,” Shapard said.

Further analysis of the crosstabs reveals that 42.1 percent plurality of moderate and liberal Republicans said they would vote for Romney.  By comparison, 24.5 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans said they would vote for Santorum, while Ron Paul would receive 19.3 percent.

Other stark differences between Santorum supporters and Romney supporters are evident when results are broken down by religious attendance.

A 50.9 percent majority of those who say they attend religious services several times a week said they would vote for Santorum.  Inversely, a 37.5 percent plurality of those who say they never attend church said they would vote for Romney.

In an interview with Michael Konopasek of News9, SoonerPoll’s vice president Keith Gaddie said “There’s an old saying in Oklahoma politics that given the choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, the Oklahoma Democrat will take the real Republican every time … they like genuine Republicans.”

Gaddie went on to tell Konopasek that “a genuine, socially conservative Republican is what Oklahomans see in Santorum.”

SoonerPoll plans to continue to poll the 2012 presidential election in the months ahead.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned this poll.  SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific poll Feb. 8 – 16, 2012.  The survey was administered via telephone interview to 300 likely Oklahoma voters who were selected at random.  All respondents who took the survey identified themselves as Republicans  and said they planned to vote in the March 6th primary election.   The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.


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BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has surged to the front among Oklahoma’s Republican voters, according to a SoonerPoll.com survey released Sunday.

Santorum was the first choice of 39 percent of the 278 likely voters who said they planned to participate in the March 6 state GOP primary.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, first in a survey conducted last fall, dropped to third, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who remained second.

Romney, generally considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, was at 23 percent, followed by Gingrich at 18.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was at 8 percent, and 13 percent were undecided.

Twenty-two of the 300 Republicans in the original sample either said they don’t intend to vote in the primary or weren’t sure if they would.

The survey was conducted Feb. 8-16, after Santorum picked up victories in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, and partly after appearances in Oklahoma City and Tulsa on Feb. 9.

“Because Oklahoma is not a leading primary state, and because one party takes it for granted and the other thinks it has no chance, the candidates don’t spend much time here,” said SoonerPoll.com President Bill Shapard.

“Romney has remained pretty steady,” Shapard said. “His share is relatively unchanged.”

The “non-Romney” Republicans, he said, seem to be still looking for a favorite.

“That’s why the seeming movement from Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum,” Shapard said.

Shapard pointed out that Santorum had been mostly in single digits, nationally and in Oklahoma, until winning narrowly in the Iowa caucuses. His three victories early this month may have convinced voters he can win.

“Rick Santorum was being held back by the fact that he was not well-known enough,” Shapard said. “Oklahomans may be beginning to think that if people in other states think he can win, why shouldn’t we.”

About the poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific telephone survey of 300 likely Republican voters in Oklahoma from Feb. 8-16. Likely voters are those who have established a frequent voting pattern. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.66 percentage points.

Read more at TulsaWorld.com

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According to a poll taken by Sooner Poll in late November/early December, Oklahomans favor a flat tax over the current state personal income tax system. Nearly sixty percent of likely voters polled said they preferred just one marginal rate. Voters registered Republican preferred simplifying the system over those registered Democrat and Independent.

The state income tax has been at the forefront of Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Republican legislature agenda for the upcoming 2012 session. They want to eliminate the state income tax over an extended period of time- something like 10 years. They claim by letting Oklahoma private citizens keep that money, it will grow the tax base and revenue to Oklahoma state government would not suffer. Much of their conclusions are based on the ‘Laffer curve’ and economic projections from the Oklahoma conservative think tank- OCPA.

First, I am not against reforming or even elimination of the Oklahoma state personal income tax. However, the Governor and the legislature should use this opportunity to take a two pronged approach. Phase out the income tax and trim government by the same amount. Deal with both sides of the ledger. We know Oklahoma has too many state employees. Make strategic surgical cuts to Oklahoma government- not across the board cuts. Some state agencies need more funding, some need to be cut back or completed eliminated.

Second, the talk of a Flat Tax implies the Oklahoma personal income tax is not going away, but is just going to be reformed. A flat tax is a far better and fairer system of taxation than any other. Everyone pays the same percentage, so as your income increases you pay the same percentage. If that system (the tithe) is good enough for a sovereign creator, it should be good enough for Oklahoma state government. But going to a Flat Tax is not what the Governor and legislature are talking about- they are talking about phasing out the state income tax completely.

Third, currently Oklahoma’s personal income tax system is unfair, but we know it exists- it’s the devil we know. When Oklahoma state government starts talking about eliminating the income tax- over twenty percent of state government’s income stream- it causes me to worry about where they plan to make up the shortfall if the Laffer curve projections fail. I believe in supply side economics and the projections may come to past, but if they don’t where will they hide the taxes and fees to make up the shortfall?

Until I see the details, I am skeptical of revamping, reforming, eliminating the state income tax. Oklahoma Republican leaders should not miss a golden opportunity to put forward a ten year plan to streamline Oklahoma government and reduce taxation at the same time.

Steve Fair is a guest political analyst and commentator at SoonerPoll.com.  Steve is Chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party and the author of  the popular blog Fair and Biased.


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Most likely Oklahoma voters say the current tax system is unfair and just over half say they would prefer a flat tax system with one marginal rate, according to a SoonerPoll survey.

When asked if the income tax system currently used by the state and federal government is fair or unfair, 59 percent of respondents said unfair and 34.2 percent said fair.

A 50.4 percent majority prefer a tax system that imposes the same tax rate on all taxpayers by taking the same percentage of income from everyone regardless of how much an individual earns.

By comparison, 40.2 percent said they prefer the kind of tax system currently used in the United States, which imposes a higher tax rate on those with higher incomes.

“It just makes sense that if you’re going to have a tax, everyone should pay the same rate,” Jonathan Small, Fiscal Policy Director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, said. “Sales taxes, property taxes, fuel taxes, and a host of other taxes are not based on income. The concept of a flat rate is present in almost every other area of life.”

See Complete Data and Analysis

Results indicate that 53.6 percent of respondents that said the current tax system is unfair also prefer the flat tax, while 37.4 percent still prefer a progressive tax system.

Over the past several months, many Republican presidential primary candidates have embraced flat tax plans as part of their campaign.  Candidates who embrace the flat tax often face criticism from those who say a single marginal tax on all Americans would adversely affect lower income Americans.

Despite the criticism, results indicate that 46.9 percent plurality of likely Oklahoma voters who make less than $35,000 a year prefer the flat tax to the progressive tax system.  By comparison, 54.3 percent of respondents that make $100,000 a year or more prefer the flat tax.

“No one wants everything they do judged by their income,” Small said.  “What will really help all Oklahomans is having more of their own income to spend, produce jobs, and charitably give as they see fit.”

Additional crosstab analysis reveals that a majority of all parties think the current tax system is unfair.  When examined by political label, the results reveal that a plurality of liberals and a majority of both moderates and conservatives agree that the current income tax system is unfair.

Results also indicate that a 59.1 percent majority of Republicans prefer the flat tax, while a 58.6 percent majority of Independents and a 47.1 percent plurality of Democrats prefer a progressive tax.

A 57.3 percent majority of liberals and a 53.2 percent majority of moderates prefer a progressive income tax, while a 59.7 percent majority of conservatives prefer a flat tax system.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

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A majority of likely Oklahoma voters support removing the law that allows state employees the option of having their public employee association dues, formerly known as union dues, withheld from their paycheck, according to a recent SoonerPoll.com study.

The study found that 56 percent of respondents would like to see the state government removed from the employee association dues collection process.  By comparison, 32.3 percent of respondents said they opposed removing the provision, while 11.7 percent had no opinion.

In 2001, voters passed Right-to-Work in Oklahoma, which says that an employee has a right to work for a company or a state or local government without having to join a union.  Its passage not only made union membership voluntary, but also changed the existing state’s public employee unions, by definition, to that of employee associations.

Current statutes allow state employees the option of having their employee association dues withheld from their paychecks each month.  Payroll deductions for employee association dues are voluntary and, if an employee elects to have their dues withheld, the state government is required to comply.

“Voters may see the state collecting employee association dues as a remnant of the old system when union membership and the paying of union dues were mandatory,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.  “Because it is now voluntary and has been since 2001, voters may view association dues as any other voluntary or personal expense of the employee and thinking it should be treated as such.”

See Complete Data and Analysis

Voluntary payroll deductions for professional organizations in Oklahoma dates back to a 1977 Extraordinary Session of the 36th Oklahoma Legislature.  During that session, legislation that provided school district employees the option of having both professional organization dues and political contributions deducted from their paycheck was ratified.

In 1984, the legislature extended voluntary payroll deductions for professional organization dues to the membership of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

Current Oklahoma law also allows state employees to make voluntary payroll deductions for retirement plans, supplemental insurance plans, approved charities, payments to Oklahoma banks or credit unions, or other state-approved entities.

The state pays for the administrative costs of processing payroll deductions by levying a 2 percent charge on the gross annual premiums for insurance plans and a 1 percent charge on the gross annual payments for retirement plans.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello  supports removing the state government from the collection employee association dues.

“Many of the associations benefiting from state payroll deductions have lobbyists and PAC’s,” Costello said.  “Right now, the partisan political activities of some employees are being subsidized by all employees who have state insurance or retirement plans, and ending payroll deductions for employee associations will remove politics from the paychecks of government workers.”

Additional poll analysis reveals that majorities of both Republicans and Democrats support changing the law.  Results show that 58.1 percent of Republicans and 52.4 percent of Democrats support the ending the state’s processing of employee association dues.

The study did find that division grows when results are broken down by political label.  Crosstab data indicates that 60.8 percent of conservative respondents support removing the deductions compared to just 40.7 percent of liberal respondents.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, commissioned and conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 512 likely voters from Nov. 17 – Dec. 6. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.

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