A poll released this morning reveals strong opposition among likely voters to Governor John Kasich’s plan to pay for an income tax cut using increased severance taxes on oil and gas drilling. The Magellan Strategies poll of 597 Ohioans was conducted July 23-24 and commissioned by Opportunity Ohio, the conservative think tank recently founded by Heritage Foundation visiting fellow and former Buckeye Institute president Matt Mayer.
Governor Kasich, a Republican, has argued that severance taxes on energy companies should be increased to pay for statewide income tax rebates. With a 4% margin of error, the Magellan poll’s topline results show that 50% of likely voters agree income taxes are too high. 42% say Ohio’s income taxes are “about right,” while 5% believe income tax rates are too low.
In terms of cutting the income tax, the governor appears to be on solid ground.
However, when asking, “Do you agree or disagree with Governor Kasich’s plan?” the poll found 23% agreement with the severance tax proposal versus 44% disagreement. Intensity points to further problems for the governor’s plan, as 29% responded they strongly disagree with the plan and only 15% said they strongly agree.
Other topline numbers reveal even deeper disagreement with the premises Kasich’s severance tax proposal is based on. Asked who ultimately pays for taxes on the energy industry, 72% of respondents said they believe energy taxes are passed on to consumers. Only 17% of respondents said energy taxes are not passed on to consumers.
Asked about the best way to fund an income tax cut, 49% chose “cutting government spending” and just 7% chose “increasing taxes on certain industries.”
Based on poll results, opposition to funding an income tax cut with a tax hike on the oil and gas industry extends far beyond Kasich’s critics at the National Taxpayers Union, Ohio Liberty Coalition, and Americans for Prosperity – Ohio. By a ratio of 7:1, likely voters indicated they would prefer an income tax cut be paid for by cutting spending instead of increasing taxes on certain industries.
Although Governor Kasich’s proposal employs rhetoric that seems to be targeted at Democrats and independent voters – natural resources belong to everyone, Big Oil takes all its profits out of state, government can tweak taxes upward without hurting business – poll results indicate Republican men are the only demographic that supports the plan.
A look at the poll’s crosstabs shows a minority of Republicans polled agree with the severance tax plan, with agreement tailing off even further among others. Asked for party affiliation, 32% of poll respondents identified as Republican, 40% as Democrat, and 28% as “something else.”
Kasich’s severance tax proposal registered agreement from 38.3% of Republicans, 7.7% of Democrats, and 27.8% of independents. At 50.2% agreement, Republican men agreed with the governor’s plan more often than any other party, age, gender, or race demographic.
Kasich’s severance tax proposal registered disagreement from 22.2% of Republicans, 65.1% of Democrats, and 39.5% of independents. At 69.5% disagreement, Democrat men disagreed with the governor’s plan more often than any other party, age, gender, or race demographic.
Among women – 55% of respondents – 15.9% agreed with Kasich’s proposal and 46.1% disagreed. 30.3% of women polled strongly disagreed with the governor’s severance tax plan, while only 8.9% strongly agreed with it.
Among men – 45% of respondents – 31.9% agreed with Kasich’s proposal and 41.9% disagreed. 28.1% of men polled strongly disagreed with the governor’s severance tax plan, while 22.6% strongly agreed with it.
In a release accompanying the survey, Mayer said, “72% of Ohioans know that taxes on businesses will be passed on them. 49% think cutting government spending is the best way to fund an income tax cut. Ohioans just don’t support tax hikes on small business energy entrepreneurs, farmers, and landowners. There is a better way to provide tax relief to all Ohioans.”