12 Republican members of the Iowa House of Representatives have introduced legislation that would fund the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Fund.
The Water, Infrastructure, Soil for our Economy ("WISE") water quality legislation proposed by State Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton would increase Iowa's sales tax by one-eighth of a cent each year for three years in a row, while adjusting the income tax filing threshold for three consecutive years so that the measure would be "revenue neutral."
63 percent of Iowans supported the fund's formation in the 2010 general election. However, the Iowa Legislature has never funded the measure.
Democrats in the legislature have criticized the latest proposal because it would result in $180 million less in state income tax revenues eventually. Democrats are worried the reduction will affect school districts statewide. They are pushing for increasing the sales tax by three-eighths of a cent without any corresponding reduction in other taxes.
However, with control of both the Iowa House, Iowa Senate and Governor's Office, Republicans control state government. Previous proposals had funded the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Fund by directly taking funds that had gone to school districts, so they never won approval.
Winneshiek County supervisors on Monday will be asked to approve a resolution in support of the latest proposal. Members of the Winneshiek County Conservation Board say the fund has the support of the majority of Iowans, so a funding source needs to be approved.