116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
JOHNSTON — Funding for the state’s long-starved natural resources, outdoors and recreation trust fund could be triggered by a proposal one key state lawmaker thinks still has a chance of passage.
Buoyed by what he believes to be support from myriad stakeholders, including environmental and conservation groups, Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, said Thursday he thinks his proposal to finally put state money into the trust fund — which has sat empty sits its creation in 2010 — might gain approval.
Dawson made the comments Thursday during taping of this weekend’s “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS.
Dawson’s proposal would raise one tax, the state sales tax, and attempt to offset that by eliminating another, the local-option sales tax. Raising the sales tax would trigger funding for the state natural resources, outdoors and recreation trust fund.
The proposal was originally part of Dawson’s plan to reduce state income taxes but was not included in the income tax bill passed into law.
Now Dawson is taking another crack at the trust fund through a new bill, Senate Study Bill 3157.
Dawson said sufficient support was shown for the proposal during a legislative hearing this week to make him believe it can pass on its own.
“Judging by the support in that (hearing), I think it’s something, personally, you could pass on its own,” Dawson said.
Sen. Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque who appeared on the show with Dawson, said Senate Democrats have concerns with the proposal, and that it would need changes before Democrats would vote for it.
Republicans have majorities in both the Iowa Senate and House and can pass legislation without Democrats’ support.
“What I heard … in the meeting was a tremendous amount of frustration from people who have been waiting for 12 years to get the money in that trust fund,” Jochum said. “And they finally saw some glimmer of hope that we might get money into that fund. And I understand that.”
However, Jochum said Democrats are concerned about the funding mechanism of shifting taxes, and about proposed changes to the formula on how trust fund revenues would be distributed to natural resources, water quality and recreation projects.
She also expressed concern about the elimination of the local-option sales tax. The bill would use state revenue to replenish any lost local-option sales tax revenue, but local government leaders are concerned the state in future years could stop doing that.
Despite those concerns, and recent remarks by Gov. Kim Reynolds that she is hesitant to approve a tax increase while inflation is impacting the economy, Dawson said he is optimistic the proposal can pass.
Dawson was less optimistic about the future of the latest versions of the bottle bill, the annual attempts to update Iowa’s state recycling laws.
The Senate and House are both moving proposals, but the bills have important differences that may prove difficult to negotiate.
“I do think momentum is building toward getting something finally done on that,” Dawson said. “I don’t know that this is the year or not.”
“Iowa Press” airs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday on Iowa PBS; at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on Iowa PBS World; and can be viewed at iowapbs.org.
Comments: (515) 355-1300, firstname.lastname@example.org