Poll: Ohioans Support Raising Fracking Tax to Cut Income Tax

Ohio voters back Gov. John Kasich's proposal to raise taxes on shale fracking and use the revenue for an across-the-board state income tax cut, a new poll indicates.
by | May 9, 2012

By Darrel Rowland, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio voters back Gov. John Kasich's proposal to raise taxes on shale fracking and use the revenue for an across-the-board state income tax cut, a new poll released today indicates.

"This looks like an issue on which Gov. Kasich has the voters behind him," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which has been taking surveys in Ohio for several years.

Sixty percent approve of Kasich's plan, 32 percent are against, the poll shows.

The Republican governor's proposal is stalled in the GOP-controlled legislature, with several lawmakers worried about increasing any taxes. Kasich has said with energy companies poised to pull billions of dollars worth of oil and gas from the shale underneath Ohio, they can stand to pay more than 20 cents a barrel.

The measure gets support from voters of all stripe: 54 percent to 36 percent among Republicans, 65 percent to 28 percent among Democrats and 63 percent to 29 percent among independents. By a 20-point margin, Ohioans would support higher taxes on fracking even if they didn't get the income tax cut.

As in a similar poll in May, more than 80 percent of respondents say the new oil and gas drilling will create jobs for the state. Voters see things improving in the Buckeye State, and Kasich reaps most of the credit.

In fact, 51 percent say they are at least "somewhat" satisfied with the way things are going now in Ohio -- the first time that response has topped the 50 percent mark since July 2007. The figure was at 29 percent just last October.

"Ohioans are more optimistic about how things are going than they have been for five years," Brown said in a statement. "That may be because the state's economy has improved, so much so that the Buckeye unemployment rate is below the national average and lower than many of the Sun Belt states where Ohioans have been fleeing for decades for better economic opportunities."

Still, only 28 percent say Ohio's economy has improved since Kasich took office in January 2011, while 23 percent say it's actually gotten worse. Another 45 percent say it's stayed the same. However, just four months ago that "plus 5" for Kasich (28 percent minus 23 percent) was a minus 10.

Of those who say the Ohio economy is getting better, 68 percent give the credit to the governor, 22 percent to President Barack Obama.

For poll participants who view the economy as worsening, 49 percent blame Kasich, 27 percent Obama.

However, Kasich's job approval rating remains what pollsters call "underwater:" 41 percent approve of his performance, 44 percent disapprove.

"Gov. Kasich's numbers have come up somewhat along with the optimism, but he still has a ways to go," Brown said. "Voters say 49-to-40 percent that he is unfair in the way he handles the budget, but they do see him as a strong leader, 54-to-36 percent, which is a characteristic voters seek in their executives."

Ohioans also are optimistic about casinos -- including ones scheduled to open this month in Cleveland and Toledo -- helping the state. A total of 62 percent say they will be good for Ohio, 29 percent say bad.

And 37 percent said they are at least "somewhat" likely to visit one of the facilities. Columbus' casino is to open late this year, Cincinnati's next year.

The telephone poll, which included both land and cell lines, from last Wednesday through Monday of 1,069 registered Ohio voters has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

(c)2012 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)


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