In 2010, 63 percent of Iowa voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Trust Fund to provide dedicated funding to improve water quality. Eight years later, our state’s leaders ‘kicked the can down the road’ with a bill with inadequate funding and limited resources dedicated to tracking and measurement.
With 54 percent of Iowa's rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands impaired -- we have the ability -- now all we need is the political will to do what is right for our environment.
Republican Senator Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa), the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee chairman said, “I'd be delighted if we could pass what we have in the House and move on.” And that is precisely what was done.
The result is a bill that will provide an estimated $282 million over 12 years, 96.8% less than what funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Trust Fund would have funded over the same period of time, and $8.7 billion less than the Nutrient Reduction Strategy says is needed.
Even worse, this solution redirected $54.1 million from the SAVE Fund, a fund dedicated to long-term school infrastructure needs over the next 11 years.
The executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council says that, “Getting meaningful water quality legislation that protects the health and safety of Iowans should be our No. 1 goal.” I agree with her.
SF 512 is not the end. It is simply just the beginning.
To continue to improve water quality in our state for the long-term and to ensure we don’t take money away from our students, teachers, and schools, we need to do the following things:
Increase the state sales tax by 1%.
- This modest tax increase would raise $180 million, annually, and more than $10 billion by 2049*. (Source: Iowa Legislative Services Agency)
Create a robust science-based reporting structure through the Department of Natural Resources to ensure information sharing and research.
Create a grant and forgivable loan program for water quality projects supported by a public-private partnership.