Could a Tax Hike Save Iowa's Water Quality?

May 6, 2016 08:48 AM
water iowa

In 2015, the Des Moines Water Works filed a federal lawsuit contending that drainage districts in three Iowa counties are polluting drinking water with nitrate runoff. A year later, little has been resolved and tensions remain high. Throw in a proposed tax hike, and the issue only gets more controversial.

That’s what Gov. Terry Branstad proposed at a news briefing on May 2. He says he is willing to explore the possibility of enacting a three-eighths of one cent increase for the state’s sales tax to generate around $180 million annually for the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. About 60% of that money would be used to curb water pollution. The trust fund has been around since 2010 but has not been funded since that time.

"I don't think Iowans want to see their taxes increased, but we are going to be willing to look all kinds of things,” Branstad said at Monday’s briefing. “The three-eighths of a cent is something we would be willing to consider, but there are other ways to do it.”

Branstad’s consideration came after the Iowa Senate refused to debate a bill from the Iowa House that would have funded water quality projects for more than a decade, at a cost of $732 million. Some called the bill a “shell game” that moved money away from other state programs.

"Taking money from one priority - public schools - and giving it to another priority - water quality - was met with bipartisan opposition in the Senate and statewide opposition from education advocates," according to Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs). "Solving Iowa's challenging water quality problems will require a sincere, bipartisan approach."

Catch up on AgWeb’s prior coverage of this ongoing issue:

Iowa Counties Prepare for Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit

Donors Contribute $900,000 to Defend Counties in Des Moines Water Works Case

Meet Iowa’s Poster Child for Farm Conservation

Don’t Ignore Your Nutrient Runoff

Can These Two Men Clean Up Iowa’s Water?

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Spell Check

Real Farmer
Hecla, SD
5/5/2016 08:41 PM

  What does outdoor recreation have to do with clean water? Subsidized welfare hunting!

80% supported
maquoketa, IA
5/5/2016 04:23 PM

  Controversial? Most Iowans supportive of the amendment. They voted for it 6 years ago. The legislators have failed to act.

parkersburg iowa, IA
5/5/2016 09:43 PM

  how about not taxing everyone and let the people that are making the mess pay for it,,here's some ideas a tax on a bag of seed corn,or a bushel of corn,or every hog that passes of a packers scale,and throw in a tax on fertilizer both ag and residential,,the common people of iowa can not afford anymore!! it's already not right we are paying for crop,and crop insurance subsidies,fall cover crops and trees around livestock buildings and lord knows what else?,,


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