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Tax Hikes On the Table as 2015 Session Opens Today

PHOTO: The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund approved by Iowa voters in 2010 remains unfunded but that could soon change with 2015 session, underway today (Monday). Photo credit: Tony Fischer/Flickr.
PHOTO: The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund approved by Iowa voters in 2010 remains unfunded but that could soon change with 2015 session, underway today (Monday). Photo credit: Tony Fischer/Flickr.
January 12, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – The gavel comes down today to open the 2015 Iowa Legislature, and among the proposals to be considered is a move to raise taxes for the environment and recreation.

In 2010, Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment for a future sales tax increase to go to a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

Now, lawmakers are being asked to put that funding in place with a hike of .375 percent, says Jan Glendening, Iowa state director of The Nature Conservancy.

"And when it's funded, it will generate more than $150 million annually for conservation support – voluntary conservation measures for our parks, for our water, for our soil heath in the state," she explains.

Another focus by lawmakers this session will be improving Iowa's deteriorating roads and bridges with a possible gas tax increase being mentioned as a funding source.

Iowa's fuel tax has remained unchanged for a number of years at 21 cents a gallon for gasoline, and 19 cents a gallon for ethanol-blended fuel.

Glendening points out the proposal for funding for natural resources and outdoor recreation could be offset if it's paired with other legislation offering some type of tax relief. She also notes that it would leverage additional federal and private money.

"The state of Iowa, we are so limited in our conservation spending here,” she stresses. “And we are a state that, our economy really depends on our natural resources.

“If you think about Iowa's soil, that's one of the best assets that we have in the state. We need to make sure we are investing directly into something that feeds our economy so much."

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA