Proposed bill would fund natural resources through sales tax increase


A shot of the autumn trees at Lake Ahqabi State Park in central Iowa. (TumblingRun/Flickr)
Lake Ahqabi State Park in central Iowa during the fall. (TumblingRun/Flickr)

Nick Fetty | March 19, 2015

Earlier this week state lawmakers proposed a bill that would raise sales tax by three-eighths of a percent to help fund natural resources preservation and outdoor recreation efforts.

Money raised would go to Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which was approved by 63 percent of Iowa voters in 2010. State Senator David Johnson (R-Ocheyedan) estimates that the bill will generate approximately $150 million each year.

The Senate Natural Resources and Environment subcommittee voted 3-0 to approve Senate File 357 which would go into effect July 1, 2016. The bill has received bipartisan support in Iowa’s democrat-controlled Senate and has also been backed by more than 85 environmental and wildlife groups. The bill will now be advanced to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

However, the proposal in its current form may meet some resistance in the republican-controlled House, according to Rep. Tom Sands (R-Wappello) who also chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

“It would be extremely difficult for House Republicans to vote to raise fuel taxes and sales taxes in the same year. Our focus in our campaigns has always been to try to lower taxes for all Iowans,” Sands said in an interview with the Des Moines Register

The Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards outlined several potential projects the bill could fund to improve outdoor recreational activities in Iowa’s 99 counties. Additionally, the group said these projects would create “tens of thousands” of jobs to accommodate the increase in visitors at Iowa parks.

If approved, this bill would be the states first sales tax increase since 1992.