Senator Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs
Iowa voters approved a trust fund to support water quality and outdoor recreation statewide in 2010, but the funds have remained empty since then.
Will legislators consider filling it in during the legislative session, which starts Monday? As they previously tried without reaching an agreement?
The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, also known as the Iowa Water and Land Heritage (IWILL), is dedicated to improving the state’s water quality, protecting and preserving Iowa’s agricultural lands, expanding natural areas, and providing recreation. I’m here. To start funding the state’s Natural Resources, Outdoors and Recreation Trust Fund, lawmakers must increase state sales taxes.
Last year, Senate Republicans launched a proposal to eliminate all local option sales taxes, raise state sales taxes by one cent, and keep three-eighths of that cent in trust funds. However, the proposal never came to fruition.
Council Bluffs Republican Senator Dan Dawson, who chairs the Iowa Senate Tax Policy Committee and put forward the proposal last year, told the Gazette it plans to try again this year, but the state’s On a slightly modified route through tax policy.
Dawson said he wants to streamline existing taxes. Instead of municipalities having their own optional sales tax, voter-approved, the tax would be standardized across all municipalities in Iowa. Send money to the area.
Dawson’s proposal would also raise the base rate of sales tax by 1 cent. This means that even in communities that previously voted for the local option sales tax, the Iowa sales tax will be 7% for him. The state will absorb the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund costs from the new sales tax base.
“I live in Council Bluffs, right? My sales tax here is 7%,” Dawson said. “Instead of raising sales tax across the board for people, we want to find a way to work within the 7% sales tax.”
He said he plans to wrap his IWILL plan into a larger discussion on property taxes. This will be the focus of this session of his commission.
“We’re going to be able to streamline our sales tax policy and fund the Natural Resources Fund, so it’s the best of both worlds,” he said, adding that most Iowa and local governments have a net sales tax rate. He added that he had not seen any changes.
If the IWILL funding stream is activated, 23 percent for natural resources, 20 percent for soil and water conservation, 14 percent for watershed protection, 13 percent for resource enhancement and conservation programs known as REAPs, and 13 percent for rural areas. percent committed. Nature Conservation Partnership, 10% for outdoor recreation trails, 7% for lake restoration.
What went wrong last year?
Last year, Dawson included his original proposal in the overall plan to cut state income taxes, but it was not included in the final income tax bill that passed into law. Attempts were made to fill the trust fund by introducing it into another bill, but this was also in vain.
“The reality is that raising the sales tax statewide to 3/8 of a penny is not going to win political support. We wanted to combine that with good tax policy,” said Dawson. He said.
Both party leaders shared doubts about how another attempt to fill the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund would be received at this session, especially amid high inflation.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitbar said, “With any tax proposal… one thing we’ve been adamant about over the last six years is that we’re not here to raise taxes. That’s it,” he said. “So whatever plan[Dawson is]working on, whether it’s property tax or income tax, it has to be a big tax cut or it’s going to be good enough. I can’t.”
Minority Democrats in both houses agreed on the uncertainty surrounding the proposal’s success.
“Funding trusts? Yeah, I’m not too sure it’s going to happen this legislative session,” said Rep. Jennifer Confust, Democratic House Leader in Windsor Heights. “If there is a law to address water quality, we will obviously look into it. We want to make sure we are really addressing the issue. It tends to be a decoration for
Dawson said he expects more support for the updated plans this year.
“Ironically, some of the people who led the IWILL prosecution in the early 2000s now feel that any kind of sales tax is regressive,” he said. “Well, you can’t get it in more than one way. I think this policy will probably work better than some past efforts.”
What else could pop up?
Other water quality-related bills will be introduced during the session, lawmakers said.
Democratic Senator Zach Walls of Coralville said several small communities are reaching out to help fund the cost of new water treatment systems needed to meet state and federal regulations. said. He said he hopes some federal infrastructure funds will be allocated for financial support.
Democratic Rep. Chuck Eisenhart of Dubuque introduces a bill to create a “Keep Your Children Home” initiative in Iowa. This will expand programs that connect children to the outdoors and encourage investment in state parks and natural resources. He will also re-pursue the expansion of adequate drinking water well testing.
But he said he doesn’t have much faith in seeing progress this year from the House Environmental Protection Committee, of which he was once a key member.
“My disappointing outlook…is that past performance predicts future results,” he said. “We don’t expect a lot of positive action from that committee.”
Le Mars Republican Rep. Tom Jennery, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Iowa legislature should invest in water quality through funding programs such as the Onstream Reservoir Rehabilitation Fund and the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. said to continue.
“I think this session will see Republicans in the Iowa House of Representatives continue to invest responsibly in the state’s water, land and air quality,” Geniary said in an email.
Other lawmakers say there is still a long way to go when it comes to investing in Iowa’s water quality.
“The majority say they let something through and then they’ve fixed the problem,” Confurst said.
Legislative preview series
The Iowa Legislature begins its 2023 session on Monday. The Gazette will consider these state issues in the days leading up to the session.
Sunday: Tax and State Budget
Monday: Abortion Policy
Tuesday: Health and Welfare Merger
Wednesday: K-12 and Higher Education Policy
Today: Water Quality
Friday: Elections and Recount Laws
Saturday: Carbon Capture Pipeline
Sunday: Private School Tuition Assistance
Monday: New Congress Demographics
Tom Barton and Erin Murphy of The Gazette De Moines Bureau contributed to this report.
Brittney J. Miller is an Energy & Environment reporter for The Gazette and a member of the Report for America. Report for America is a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report unreported issues.
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