School districts in Iowa are lobbying hard to extend the SAVE one percent sale tax that goes to fund school infrastructure. The current tax does not end until 2029! Why do school districts want to extend the tax now, when they still have tax money coming in for about 11 more years? It is because they have already spend all of their future sales tax revenues through bonding. Many metropolitan school districts already have beautiful facilities, and several central Iowa school districts just passed school bond referendums to pay for additional new facilities. We now need to get back to letting the individual school districts, and their own taxpayers, decide whether or not they need additional tax money. Contact your state legislators and urge them to oppose this future tax increase.
Governor Brandstad said he is open to increasing the sales tax to improve water quality in Iowa. (Des Moines Register, 5/3/2016, “Branstad open to sales tax for water quality” – link below) Specifically, he wants to implement the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreations Trust Fund. Under the Iowa Constitutional amendment passed in 2010, the next three-eights of a penny increase in the sales tax must go to the Trust Fund. He suggested offsetting the tax increase by a decrease in the income tax – to make the change revenue neutral.
We all want clean water and nice recreation opportunities. But, what I don’t want is to pay farmers rent to not pollute. It appears that up to 50% of the tax collected could go to farmers to entice them to not pollute. The Constitutional amendment was a mistake. People want clean water and good recreational opportunities, but the way the Consitutional amendment was structured was a mistake. I think most Iowans voted their emotions, but would really not agree with the structure of the amendment. We need to repeal this amendment.
Contrary to the Des Moines Sunday Register opinion essay on 12/14/2014, Iowans did not vote four years ago to increase the Iowa sales tax by 3/8ths of a percent to fund conservation and recreation. Instead, Iowa voters made the easy choice to show emotional support for recreation and the environment without having to actually pay anything. Iowa is already doing very well on the recreational front without increasing taxes. We also already have substantial subsidies and other incentives to promote conservation and reduce pollution. If we want more funding for recreation, establish user fees. If we need to take further steps to reduce pollution, we should assess fines against the polluters. We do not need to tax ourselves $150 million per year in perpetuity. We made a mistake by amending our Constitution to commit any future sales tax increase to specific, narrowly defined purposes. We will not be able to change how we use the proceeds of any future tax increase without an amendment to our Iowa Constitution. We should not compound our mistake now by increasing our sales tax.
Link to Register opinion essay: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2014/12/13/editorial-pressure-lawmakers-outdoor-fund/20387043/