Des Moines, Iowa — Ocheyedan Senator David Johnson is a champion of a bill that would increase state sales tax by a fraction of a cent to raise money for water quality projects. That bill cleared it’s first hurdle in the Iowa Senate, but it faces strong opposition that’s likely to sink the proposal.
Johnson asked his fellow Senators what the General Assembly would be remembered for.
Johnson and about two dozen other people spoke in favor of the plan during a statehouse hearing Thursday afternoon. Mark Ackelson, a former president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, says water quality problems are “urgent” and it’s time for legislators to act.
Two state senators signed off on the proposed tax hike Thursday. That makes the bill eligible for debate in a senate committee. Earlier this week House REPUBLICANS advanced their own plan. They want to shift state taxes being used for other purposes toward water quality projects. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says it does not appear ANY plan has enough support in the senate.
Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, chairs the HOUSE Ways and Means Committee. He says a “straight up” tax increase cannot pass the Republican-led House.
Sands says that means CUTTING income taxes at the same time the sales tax is raised. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says it will be up to advocates of the tax increase to get lawmakers to embrace the plan.
Petersen supports the three-eighths percent increase in the state sales tax, with those extra taxes deposited in the “Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.” Sixty-three percent of Iowa voters approved creation of the fund in 2010, but there’s no money in it.