Opinions Split on NSA Phone Data Collection

An Oregon poll examines at a hot-button issue to gauge where Oregonians stand on privacy and liberty against the needs of security and law enforcement.

There are two polarizing events that are pulling Americans in different directions, one being terrorist attacks (Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino) and the other being corporate sacrifices to our individual liberty (FBI ordering Apple to unlock its iPhone and Congress recently scaling back NSA personal data collections). Last year, the Foundation asked over 300 Oregonians in a telephone poll how they felt on the pressing issue of the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting phone data.

The question asked was “Do you believe the National Security Agency should be allowed to capture and archive bulk private telephone metadata as a tool to investigate potential terrorists?”

The results were bitterly split, nearly even. Roughly 41% of Oregonians supported the NSA program. A slightly larger amount, 45%, opposed the government agency from collecting and archiving private phone metadata. Close to 13% of Oregonians were unsure or did not know.

POLL RESULTS BREAKDOWN:

Support: 41.7% (126/301)

Oppose: 45.4% (137/301)

Not Sure / Don’t Know: 12.9% (39/301)

Should the NSA Collect Phone Data?

  • SUPPORT
  • OPPOSE
  • UNSURE

Oregon dislikes film tax credits by 2-to-1 margin

A Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation poll of Oregonians found that the Oregon film tax credit program has strong disfavor with the public and is one of the most disliked issues of the nearly two dozen issues we surveyed Oregonians on. This comes at a time when the 2016 Legislature has been holding hearings on Senate Bill 1578 which increases Oregon’s film tax credit cap from $10 million to $14 million.

Only 25% of Oregonians said they favor the current film tax credit program compared to 62% that oppose — that is more than double the number of opposition.

Supporters say the Oregon Film Tax Credit program brings jobs and tourism. Opponents say it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and does not deliver on those promises.

The Foundation asked the question where both viewpoints were represented, “Oregon spends $10 million a year in tax incentives and rebates for Hollywood film investors to work in Oregon. Supporters say these tax incentives help attract filming jobs and tourism. Opponents say taxpayers shouldn’t be giving $10 million in tax breaks to wealthy film producers who are not creating long term jobs. Do you support or oppose tax subsidies for film companies and investors?

The telephone poll was conducted last year of 300 voters.

Tax Incentives for the Film Industry?

  • SUPPORT
  • OPPOSE
  • UNSURE

78% are unaware of the PERS disaster

Oregon’s public employee retirements system (PERS) is now a staggering $20-$22 billion in unfunded liability. Just this week it was announced that it grew by another $3 billion and made front page news. A 2015 telephone poll of 300 Oregonians by the Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation showed that the public is clueless to this gigantic PERS debt hole which will consume state and local budgets for police, fire, and schools.

The Foundation asked Oregonians how big Oregon’s public employee unfunded liability is. Nearly half (43%) had no idea. Over a third 34% guessed below the actual amount (1-to-5 billion 9.3% or 5-to-10 billion 24.7%). Less than a quarter of Oregonians (22.7%) guessed correctly that the PERS debt was over $10 billion.

When you put the numbers together you reach about 78% of Oregonians are unaware of the looming Public Employee pension (PERS) unfunded liability disaster. Yet, this mammoth unfunded PERS liability is a key reason that taxes and fees have been increasing over the years. This debt disaster impacts every avenue of Oregon’s government.

This puts the 2016 Special Legislative Session in the spotlight. It is unknown what our elected leaders, Governor, Senate President, and House Speaker, plan to do to address and fix the PERS debt disaster.

POLL RESULTS BREAKDOWN:

1 to 5 Billion: 9.3% (28/301)

5 to 10 Billion: 24.7% (74/301)

More than 10 Billion: 22.7% (68/301)

Not Sure / Don’t Know: 43.2% (130/301)

How Big is Oregon's Public Employee Debt?

  • 1-5 BILLION
  • 5-10 BILLION
  • 10 BILLION +
  • UNSURE

Nearly 2 of 3 voters oppose gas tax

This month Oregonians were polled on their view of raising the gas tax. This comes at a time when the issue of improved roads and taxes are being debated at the state and local level. Portland has been considering a street tax and Washington County floated a car tax that was defeated by voters last year. The poll shows that 60% of Oregonians surveyed opposed an increase in the gas tax. Only 22% supported a gas tax increase. 17% of those surveyed were either unsure or didn’t know.

The question asked included some of the best arguments on this issue with supporters highlighting the need for a gas tax to keep up with inflation and the impact of hybrid cars that use little gas but cause wear on our roads. For opponents of a gas tax increase, the issue has often been the misuse of existing gas tax funds. Below is the gas tax question:

Question: “There is discussion of raising the gasoline tax in Oregon. Supporters say transportation funding has not kept up with inflation or with the impact of low gas hybrid vehicles. Opponents say that current gas taxes are not being appropriately spent on roads and instead wasted and misused. Would you support or oppose a gas tax?

Gas Tax Increase for Roads?

  • SUPPORT
  • OPPOSE
  • UNSURE

65% of Oregonians dislike tax credit/increase swap

One of the most discussed issues in the Legislature is the complex issue of combining tax increases with renewing tax credits into a single bill with the concept that it evades the 3/5 majority rule passed by voters. Some say this is grossly unconstitutional while others say this is perfectly legit. We asked average Oregonians their opinion of this complex topic. The survey results show that over 60% of Oregonians disapprove of combining tax credits and tax increases into a single bill as a way to avoid the 3/5 majority rule for tax increases. Only 12% support the idea. With nearly a quarter of the public undecided or unsure shows the need for more information on this topic.

Question: “Oregon law requires that lawmakers can only pass tax increases if they receive a 60% majority approval to pass. Some wish to bypass this 60% majority rule if a bill raises a tax on one group while lowering taxes for another group. Do you support allowing lawmakers to pass a tax increase with fewer votes if tax increases are linked to renewing offsetting tax credits?

Tax Credits/Increases Combined in a Single Bill?

  • SUPPORT
  • OPPOSE
  • UNSURE

53% of Oregonians would raise the speed limit to 75 mph

Question: “Do you think Oregon’s speed limit should be allowed to be raised to 75 mph in approved areas?

POLL RESULTS BREAKDOWN:

Yes: 53.1% (160/301)

No: 42.4% (128/301)

Not Sure / Don’t Know: 4.4% (13/301)

Should the Speed Limit Increase to 75 mph?

  • YES
  • NO
  • UNSURE

Trust of Federal control over Oregon natural resource lands is at 7%

The Taxpayer Association of Oregon Foundation asked over 300 Oregonians in a statistical sample on who best should control Oregon’s natural resource land. The answers are striking.

Only 7% of Oregonians prefer the existing system of Federal control over our Natural Resource land. Roughly 36% believe the State should. The highest trust was for County and Local Governments at 39%. Put State and local together you get nearly 75% of Oregonians. Trusting Federal management over our lands was rated so poorly that those who stated “Unsure or Don’t know” scored double the Federal response.

This begs the question, “Why does Oregon surrender the responsibility and ownership of their own land to a system lacking public confidence when compared to local control which scores near universal support?” Giving Oregonians more local control could be a popular and surprising reform to our controversial land use system.

Supporters of local control state that the government closest to the people and closest to the land can best handle the unique local needs. On the other hand, supporters of Federal control say that national interest and national resources trump local interests.

Who Do You Trust to Manage Oregon’s Natural Resource Land?

  • COUNTY & LOCAL
  • STATE
  • UNSURE
  • FEDERAL

Majority of Taxpayers say Marijuana revenue should go to law enforcement

Question: “Where do you believe that tax revenue raised from marijuana sales should be dedicated?

POLL RESULTS BREAKDOWN:

General Fund: 11% (33/301)

Education: 25.9% (78/301)

Law Enforcement: 30.7% (92/301)

Social Services: 9.6% (29/301)

Other: 8.9% (27/301)

Not Sure / Don’t Know: 13.8% (42/301)

Where Should Pot Revenue Go?

  • GENERAL FUND
  • EDUCATION
  • LAW ENFORCEMENT
  • SOCIAL SERVICES
  • OTHER
  • UNSURE

Oregonians Oppose Bypassing the 60% Majority Rule

Oregon law requires that lawmakers can only pass tax increases if they receive a 60% majority approval to pass. Some wish to bypass this 60% majority rule if a bill raises a tax on one group while lowering taxes for another group.

Question: “Do you support allowing lawmakers to pass tax increases with fewer votes if tax increases are linked to renewing offsetting tax credits?

Reduce Super-Majority for Tax Votes?

  • SUPPORT
  • OPPOSE
  • UNSURE