Polled Okies Give State’s ‘Premier’ Incentive Program a Mixed Review

  • Joe Wertz

While Oklahoma voters like the idea of state-funded financial incentives for private companies, they’re less certain about the success of the state’s “premier” jobs creation program, according to a survey commissioned by Oklahoma Watch.

The SoonerPoll.com survey polled 587 likely voters in July and August. The poll showed that 34.6 percent of those surveyed said the Quality Jobs program has been “very successful” or “somewhat successful” at accomplishing its goals.

On the other end, 37.1 percent of those polled said the program was “very unsuccessful” or “somewhat unsuccessful.”
SoonerPoll.com question: “Do you think that The Oklahoma Quality Jobs program has been successful or unsuccessful in its mission to create jobs in Oklahoma?”

Very Successful 10.4%
Somewhat Successful 24.2%
Neutral 19.6%
Somewhat Unsuccessful 17.7%
Very Unsuccessful 19.4%
Don’t Know/Refused to Answer 8.7%
Source: Oklahoma Watch/SoonerPoll.com

Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.04 percentage points, that’s just about a dead heat, wrote Oklahoma Watch’s Warren Vieth.

But about more than half of those polled in the same survey endorsed the idea of tax breaks. About 51 percent agreed that “some individuals, corporations, interest groups and associations should receive tax breaks,” while about 36 percent disagreed.

Unlike many other state-funded tax incentives that offer tax rebates, the Quality Jobs program makes cash payments to employers that create jobs by opening or expanding facilities in Oklahoma. The biggest beneficiaries of the program are manufacturers, the nonprofit journalism organization points out in another story.

Quality Jobs and its “ancillary programs” have paid out more than $700 million since the incentive began in 1993, according to the Tulsa World.

While scores of state-funded tax credits and economic incentive programs are being questioned, Quality Jobs has broad support. State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, praised program at a tax credit task force meeting in September.