Month: January 2017

Poll: Teachers believe state should cut wind energy subsidies to better fund public education

Nearly two-thirds of teachers in the state of Oklahoma believe corporate tax credits should be used to better fund public education, according to an online poll of teachers conducted by SoonerPoll.  Just 11.8% of teachers disagreed.

During the 2016 legislative session earlier this year, several attempts to cut wind energy tax credits failed to get a vote, even though legislators grappled with more than $1 billion deficit and severe cuts to public education appropriations.

“It’s unfortunate, but it appears to teachers that our governor and state legislature prioritized the out-of-state wind energy producers over public schools,” said Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll.com.

Windwaste, a citizen advocacy group that opposes wind energy subsidies, believes subsidies given to wind farms could fund more than 1,200 new teachers. Oklahoma pays an average of $32,000 to a first-year teacher, yet gives $38,000 per turbine in tax subsidies to wind energy companies, according to the group.

In June, Secretary of Finance Preston L. Doerflinger reported that tax incentives for wind producers had once again exceeded the monthly collections of ALL corporate taxes paid into the General Revenue Fund (GRF), the key indicator of state government’s fiscal status and the predominant funding source for the annual appropriated state budget.

“These poll results might be expected,” said Shapard, “but pro-wind energy groups have made numerous claims this year that Oklahoma’s schools would greatly benefit from property taxes paid by wind producers. Teachers, who can see first-hand the impact funding has in the classroom, would seem to disagree.”

 

 Our state should cut corporate tax credits, like subsidies for wind energy, and use those savings to better fund public education.  Do you: [PROBE: STRONGLY/SOMEWHAT]

1. Strongly agree 31.2
2. Somewhat agree 33.6
3. Don’t know/refused [DNR] 23.4
4. Somewhat disagree 9.2
5. Strongly disagree

 

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the online poll of 458 Oklahoma teachers. The poll was commissioned by the Oklahoman.

The scientific study was conducted online September 29 – October 10, 2016 and respondents were selected at random among those with a teaching certificate in the state of Oklahoma. Teachers were identified by filtering out only teachers who were currently employed, retired, or looking for a teaching position in the state. The data was also filtered for those registered to vote and likely to vote in the November election.

The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 4.56 percent.

Tulsa World – Sen. Michael Bergstrom and Estela Hernandez: End wind subsidies for teacher pay

Voters rejected State Question 779 on Nov. 8, but Oklahoma’s classroom teachers still need a raise.

Surveys consistently show the public supports increasing teacher pay, even if they opposed SQ 779’s package of tax hikes and increased spending for other programs. Thankfully, there’s a better way to finance a teacher pay raise: end wasteful tax credit subsidies for the wind Industry.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, $113 million in zero-emission tax credits were claimed — largely by wind companies — during Fiscal Year 2014. That $113 million could provide an additional $2,600 to the more than 42,000 classroom teachers in Oklahoma.

By ending tax credits for wind companies — 93 percent of which are located out of state or overseas in countries like Spain, Portugal and South Korea — the state would get more than half way to funding a $5,000 teacher pay raise. And this is if the cost of these subsidies were to stay at $113 million per year.

Current law provides no limit on these subsidies. The payout to wind companies can keep rising, and that is what is happening today.

This past summer, Oklahoma Tax Commission staff testified at a legislative interim study that the zero-emission tax credits in 2017 are expected to cost the state much more than the $113 million paid out for 2014. Some estimate the state will pay more than $200 million to wind companies for 2017.

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