Government

Poll: 69 percent of Iowans support sales tax for water quality

A small pond marks where a spring feeds a creek during a dedication ceremony for the new water quality and angler access easement to Pine Spring Creek, North Canoe Creek and West Canoe Creek at Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah, Iowa, on Friday, April 28, 2017. The Iowa DNR and angling organizations have worked with Seed Savers Exchange for many years to restore aquatic habitats in three coldwater streams on their 890-acre property. The water quality improvement efforts and easement opened up over four miles of trout fishing habitat to public fishing. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
A small pond marks where a spring feeds a creek during a dedication ceremony for the new water quality and angler access easement to Pine Spring Creek, North Canoe Creek and West Canoe Creek at Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah, Iowa, on Friday, April 28, 2017. The Iowa DNR and angling organizations have worked with Seed Savers Exchange for many years to restore aquatic habitats in three coldwater streams on their 890-acre property. The water quality improvement efforts and easement opened up over four miles of trout fishing habitat to public fishing. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

A coalition pushing for an increase in the state sales tax to pay for water quality initiatives says a new poll shows that nearly 7 in 10 Iowans back the idea.

Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, a coalition that includes conservation, outdoors and business groups

“Iowans want clean water, productive agricultural soil and increased outdoor recreation opportunities, said support for the sales tax increase has grown.. They overwhelmingly favor funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund as the solution,” said Joe McGovern, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

The trust fund was created in 2010 when 63 percent of voters approved it in a statewide referendum. It remains unfunded.

For years, water quality advocates have pushed for a 3/8th of 1 percent sales tax increase to provide a revenue source for the fund, but the legislature hasn’t acted.

The poll comes as lawmakers begin their 2018 session, with water quality funding a primary topic of discussion.

The new poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies Nov. 12 to 16, sampled the opinions of 500 Iowans likely to vote in the 2018 election.

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The poll reported that 69 percent of the respondents support increasing the sales tax by 3/8ths of a cent to fund the trust in order to “protect water, land and wildlife, and ensuring strict accountability for all funds.”

That level of support, the group said, is higher than in 2014, when 66 percent supported it.

The group said that its poll showed majority support across political party lines. The poll reported 88 percent of Democrats backed the increase and 55 percent of Republicans. Sixty-seven percent of independents did so, according to the poll.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percent overall and higher for subgroups.

Last year, the Iowa House and Senate approved separate water quality measures that did not include a sales tax increase. Instead, they would have diverted a smaller amount of existing tax revenues for water quality initiatives. The chambers could not come to an agreement on an individual proposal.

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