Budget & Tax , Energy

Jonathan Small & Dave Bond | May 14, 2014

Myths and facts: Do poll results show that Oklahomans want to raise taxes on energy drilling? Far from it

Jonathan Small & Dave Bond

[Advocates for raising Oklahoma’s gross production tax from the current 1 percent rate to 7 percent on horizontal and deep-well drilling for oil and natural gas have made questionable claims about the nature of the tax, the effects of energy drilling on Oklahoma’s economy, and the relationship between taxes on drilling and funding state government. This is one in a series of posts in which we present the facts.]

Myth: Oklahomans “overwhelmingly” wish to raise taxes on oil and natural gas drilling within the state.

Facts: In a statewide survey conducted March 26-31, 2014, by an Oklahoma-based market research firm, a full 64 percent of Oklahoma voters said they would prefer to keep the state’s gross production tax on horizontal and deep wells at the current rate of 1 percent, as opposed to raising it to 7 percent. When voters were presented with the possibility that jobs and drilling activity could leave Oklahoma should the tax rate increase to 7 percent, support rose for keeping the tax low, with up to 74 percent of respondents wishing to leave the gross production tax rate at 1 percent, rather than increase it.

Other recent surveys of Oklahoma voters have produced dramatically different results. But it’s worth noting that those surveys were conducted by Global Strategy Group, the New York City polling firm that has also worked to support the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Truthfully, the Global Strategy Group survey was little more than a push poll, inaccurately suggesting, as they have before, that higher taxes would result in greater funding for core state services, such as schools, prisons, and roads.

In contrast, the facts suggest previous tax rate reductions in Oklahoma have contributed to our state’s government spending reaching all-time highs every year for a decade, and to our state’s tax collections reaching all-time highs the past two years, and likely a third. All during these record-setting years, Oklahoma’s gross production tax rate on horizontal and deep-well drilling for oil and natural gas remained at a steady, low effective rate of 1 percent.

It is becoming harder and harder for policymakers to ignore the fact that tax rates, particularly taxes on work and production, have an impact on economic development, job growth, and the ability of state governments to fund the services taxpayers want.

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Dave Bond Vice President for Advocacy

Dave Bond

Vice President for Advocacy

Dave Bond serves as Vice President for Advocacy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. He was previously the CEO of OCPA Impact, OCPA's 501(c)4 action partner. Since 2011, Dave has advocated at the Oklahoma Capitol on issues of free enterprise, individual initiative and limited government. He has been referred to in the Tulsa World as "a prominent Oklahoma anti-tax lobbyist". Prior to his advocacy efforts, Dave worked in Oklahoma elections, focused mostly on state legislative campaigns. He was the executive director of the Republican State House Committee, the campaign arm of the Republican caucus of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Dave also worked with the campaign consulting firm A.H. Strategies and with the inaugural campaign of former Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud. In addition, he served in the media and communications divisions of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Dave has lived in Oklahoma most of his life and is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. He and his wife Marsha have two sons and live in Yukon.

Loading Next