More than 200 activists converged on the state capitol today, urging more funding for water quality, conservation, and outdoor recreation across the state.
A Republican-sponsored bill in the House would raise the state sales tax for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which was approved by the voters as a constitutional amendment in 2010.
The bill also creates a water quality revolving fund by diverting dollars currently spent elsewhere in the state budget.
The bill would cut income taxes to make up for the higher sales tax.
The bill has 12 Republican sponsors in the House.
One sponsor estimates the bill would provide $4 billion over the next 20 years.
“This bill would be single largest investment in water quality and conservation funds… in the history of the state of Iowa and that’s all because of you,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) to a cheering crowd.
Hunting groups including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and the National Wild Turkey Federation were on hand to lobby for the bill. Health groups and county officials were also on the program, sponsored by Iowa's Water and Land Legacy.
"In the wintertime it’s great to go out on our trails and go skiing cross-country skiing and hiking,” said Warren County Supervisor Crystal McIntyre. “There's so many things we can do with this fund.”
“Iowa’s legacy depends on clean water, productive agricultural soils, and thriving wildlife habitats so all Iowans can enjoy the splendor of our state,” said officials with the IWiLL in a website statement supporting the trust fund.
More than 60% of Iowans approved the trust fund by constitutional amendment but the legislature has never appropriated the 3/8 cent sales tax increase included in the amendment.
“This is a heavy lift,” Kaufmann said. “Absolutely this is something that's going to be difficult.”