Editorial: An agreeable tax increase

Property+taxes+are+due+Sept.+30.+for+Story+County+property+holders.

Property taxes are due Sept. 30. for Story County property holders.

Editorial Board

Eight years ago, forward thinking Iowans voted overwhelmingly to amend the state constitution. Today, however, the citizens of Iowa are still waiting on lawmakers to fulfill their end of the deal.

With its passage, Amendment 1 established the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The amendment dictates that three-eighths of a cent from the next sales tax increase will be set aside for state and local projects that help protect or improve Iowa’s natural resources and outdoor recreational programs. Furthermore, the language of the constitution makes it impossible for the money in the fund to be reallocated or used for any other purpose.

In 2010 the amendment garnered bipartisan support from hunters, landowners, farmers, environmentalists and nature enthusiasts alike. These groups saw the need for this specific funding model and acted to establish the mechanism that would bring about positive change.

Today, public support for the now-law is still high. A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll last February found that 56 percent of Iowans support “increasing the state sales tax three-eighths of 1 cent to pay for water quality projects and outdoor recreation.” A more recent poll that asked a similar question found support for the tax increase at 69 percent. And, what could be a better gift for lawmakers who are facing large budgetary shortfalls for the second year in a row than a poll showing public support for a tax increase?

But this is not new information for lawmakers. This is now the eighth legislative session since the passage of the amendment. The fund still sits void of any tangible progress and instead is filled with the unmet expectations of the Iowa voters.

Legislative officials and the governor have about three months to pass a bill increasing the state sales tax. Lawmakers have the opportunity to address water quality issues while investing in our state’s natural resources and communities — all in one bill. Gov. Kim Reynolds has even stated that she hopes the first bill she signs deals with the concerns over water quality in the state.

Let’s make the governor’s wish (and the collective wish of nearly 69 percent of Iowans) a reality and provide the appropriate funds to the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.