Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee have endorsed a slightly-altered version of Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s plan to divert some state sales taxes reserved for school infrastructure and spend that money instead on water quality projects.
Representative Lee Hein, a Republican from Monticello, is chairman of the committee.
“I’m in no place to believe that this is the final draft of what will wind up on the governor’s desk,” Hein says. “…If somebody’s got a better way to fund it that will work, that we can all sit down and agree on I’m very open to that.”
Representative Helen Miller, a Democrat from Fort Dodge, says the plan betrays taxpayers who voted to raise the sales tax locally, just to finance school improvements.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the quality of our water is dependent upon taking down education,” Miller said.
Representative Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mount Ayr, isn’t thrilled with the tax diversion either, but he says legislators have “to do something” about water quality.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place,” Dolecheck says. “We’ve got to compromise and get things done.”
Representative Patti Ruff, a Democrat from McGregor, questions the add-ons, like proposals to require another district-wide vote whenever a school spends a million dollars on an infrastructure project.
“I feel like this is sort of like Mr. Potato Head,” Ruff said. “We’re taking bits and pieces from every other…version that’s out there and throwing it in this thing.”
The next stop for this bill will be in the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over any legislation that involves taxes.