Des Moines, Iowa – RadioIowa – A coalition that’s been pressing state policymakers to raise the state sales tax to pay for water quality projects is expanding. Iowa Soybean Association executive director Kirk Leeds says his group is joining the effort.
Leeds says Iowa lawmakers boosted taxes for the state’s transportation system in 2015 by raising the state gas tax and his group will lobby lawmakers will make the same kind of investment decision for water resources in the state.
The state’s LARGEST farm organization is NOT part of the coalition — but Leeds points to the Iowa Farm Bureau’s decision this past week to support efforts to find existing or raise NEW state tax revenue for water quality initiatives. Leeds predicts “political compromises” are ahead.
Jan Glendenning, the state director of the Nature Conservancy, has been working on this issue for a decade and she’s “optimistic” the tide is turning.
The C-E-O of a beer distributing company based in Council Bluffs has agreed to be co-chair of Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy. That’s the name of the coalition. The group supports a three-eighths cent increase in the state sales tax. An estimated 180-million dollars would be raised annually. About 60 percent of it would be used for on-the-farm practices that improve water quality. The rest would be used for projects that enhance outdoor recreation with investments in parks, trails and lakes. Tammi Kircher, the state chairwoman of Ducks Unlimited, says outdoor recreation is “big business” in Iowa.
Kircher and about two dozen others held a news conference Monday near the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers to announce the expanding membership in Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy. The group did not mention the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit that challenges the VOLUNTARY efforts of Iowa farmers to control farm chemical run-off into the Raccoon River. The utility uses the river as its main source of drinking water for more than 250-thousand central Iowa customers.