About two-thirds of Iowa’s voters Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that will set up a trust fund to preserve the state’s most precious natural resources. Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, says the fund will become a safeguard for water quality, soil conservation and outdoor recreation.
“If there’s revenue there from a future sales tax increase or other funding sources from the legislature, we think these long-term types of investments are a good way to spend those dollars,” Langgin says. “Over 90-percent of Iowa’s land is in agricultural production and this is a way to invest back into that soil and protect that resource for future farmers and helping sustain our economy long-term.”
He says a formula is already in place that would distribute the money where it needs to go, dollars that cannot be raided and used in another part of the state budget. “The trust fund dedicates the first three-eighths of one-percent of a future sales tax increase to the trust fund which in 2007 dollars, would be about 150-million a year,” Langgin says. “About two-thirds of it would go to water quality and soil conservation programs and the remaining third would go to outdoor recreation, state parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.” The environmental trust fund is completely hinged on a future state sales tax increase, though he admits no one really knows when that might happen.
Langgin says, “The last time was during the previous Branstad administration, the last time they increased the sales tax, but I really can’t speculate as far as when the next time may be.” The latest figures indicate the natural resources trust fund passed in Tuesday’s vote roughly 63-to-37%.