Senate Democrats have drafted their preliminary plan for spending more than $185.5 million in state gambling taxes on a wide variety of projects, from new buildings on the state university campuses to a new state park in northwest Iowa. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, leads the subcommittee that has released the first draft of the “Rebuild Iowa’s Infrastructure Fund” budget.
“This is a real artful attempt to try to address the complex needs of a state that is craving additional funding in the areas of recreation and outdoor activity,” McCoy says.
The plan would provide $2 million for the proposed Good Earth State Park along the Iowa/South Dakota border, as well as $10 million for trails in the Cedar Rapids, Bellevue, Mason City and Cedar Falls areas. There’s also money for a project to clean up the watershed that leads into the Iowa Great Lakes.
“Overall this is a very balanced approach to trying to meet the growing needs of a more and more urban Iowa and a state that appreciates the environment and I suspect we’ll be talking about some of those trails,” McCoy says.
This spending plan which divvies up state gambling taxes for infrastructure projects always sparks controversy, as legislators accuse other lawmakers of packing pet “pork barrel” projects into the bill. The Senate Democrats’ plan calls for finishing building projects on the three state university campuses, including renovation of Bartlett Hall at the University of Northern Iowa; construction of a new Dental Science Building at the University of Iowa as well as completion of phase two of the Iowa State University Biosystems Engineering Complex.