Iowans will vote on an amendment to the state constitution this fall to create a trust fund for the state’s natural resources. Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, says the amendment would bring a permanent, protected fund that’s dedicated to water quality, soil conservation and wetlands restoration. Ackelson says the proposal involves taxes but is not a tax increase.
“This creates a trust fund,” he says, “and it would provide that the next time there’s an increase in the sales tax, if that should occur, then the first 3/8ths of one cent would be dedicated to the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.” The fund has the potential to bring in 150-million dollars a year for programs to help farmers with soil and water conservation, construction of buffers and terraces, and improvements to lakes and streams. Two-thirds of the money, he says, would be devoted only to water quality improvements.
Ackelson says this is not an unusual proposal as many of Iowa’s neighbors already have such proposals in place. Minnesota passed a similar proposal last year and Missouri has two trust funds in place, while Nebraska even has a portion of its lottery proceeds dedicated to natural resources and conservation. Ackelson says, “More and more states are realizing the importance of natural resources, both for their economy and way of life.” He says the voters need to be reassured so they understand, voting yes for the amendment is not voting for a tax hike.
Ackelson says, “Our constitution actually forbids creating a sales tax or any kind of tax with a constitutional amendment, so that’s unlike states like California and other places that you see pass these.” He says the trust fund will also encompass a plan to protect us from future flooding, enhancing parks and recreation, protecting wildlife habitat, and other specific conservation programs.
Learn more at the website: “www.iowaswaterandlandlegacy.org“. The vote is November 2nd.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City