Thanks to the continued support and efforts of the IWILL Coalition, we were able to move legislation to get the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund funded further than we have since the constitutional amendment was passed in 2010 by 63% of Iowa voters. Join in this effort by completing the IWILL pledge now.
During the 2015 legislative session, we successfully had legislation introduced in both the Senate and the House. The Senate bill, SF 504, was championed by Senators Bolkcom, Johnson and Hogg, and passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is further than we have gotten any legislation to date. This bill proposes a sales tax increase of 3/8th of a percent, which would be phased in over a three year period.
The House bill, HSB 256, was filed by Representative Sands in the waning hours of the legislative session. This proposal pairs the sales tax increase with an income tax reduction. The bill also proposes to allocate the Trust Fund receipts differently than the formula suggested by the stakeholder group, which originally proposed this kind of a funding mechanism to support Iowa’s natural resources.
Having legislation in both chambers, gives legislators and the Coalition something tangible to discuss and find compromise around during the interim. Our job is to let our legislators and the Governor know that we expect them to find a compromise that will provide meaningful funding to support our natural resource concerns.
We know we have the public’s support behind these efforts to address our water quality, soil erosion and wildlife habitat issues. Polling done last year demonstrates that support for funding the Trust has actually increased since the landslide vote in 2010. Our challenge now is to translate this public support into legislative will and action.
The IWILL Coalition will continue working to educate legislators and the Governor and build upon the momentum of the session. Can we make the 2016 election year a time when not voting to increase the sales tax could hurt a campaign?
In order to meet the goals established by the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and support the implementation of practices and wetlands to accomplish these goals, Iowa needs to make a real commitment to adequately fund targeted initiatives. The longer we wait, the worse our problems will become and the more expensive it will be to make improvements. That is why the Iowa Soybean Association is supporting IWILL, and why all of the commodity groups should, as well.
Beyond that, Iowa’s quality of life is at stake. We all want: safe drinking water, clean lakes and rivers in which to recreate, abundant wildlife to watch and hunt, an even more connected trail system to keep us outdoors and healthy, and an environment that will keep Iowa’s economy vibrant by appealing to new businesses and ensure that our young people stay here to raise their families.
We made some good progress during the 2015 legislative session, and we want to thank everyone who helped. By communicating with our legislators and the Governor, and encouraging your friends to do the same, we will be able to get the permanent, reliable investments we need to protect and improve Iowa’s natural resources. It will take all of us, working together to get this done. Sign the pledge now to be sure you are part of the solution!