A bipartisan group of lawmakers is recommending a statewide vote on a sales tax increase to pay for outdoor recreation projects. The increase recommended? A three-eights of one cent hike in the state sales tax. Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold says it would be pocket change well spent.
"Any tax increase has its sensitivities and I understand that, but when you look at how much does this really mean on a $50 purchase, a $100 purchase — it’s pretty small," Leopold says. Supporters estimate the tax hike would raise one-hundred-50 million dollars ($150 million) a year for expanding bike trails, wetland restoration and other outdoor projects around the state.
"That investment, it’s going to yield many times over in recreational opportunities, quality of life, attracting a workforce to Iowa along with a direct (benefit to) sportsmen, angler, biker, birdwatcher interests that are out there," Leopold says. The idea is just a proposal at this point. It must clear the full, 150-member Iowa legislature this year, then be approved again next year before the tax hike could be presented to Iowa voters for their review.