State capitol building.

State capitol building.

Republicans in the Iowa House have added more money to their water quality initiative.

Last week a House committee approved a water usage tax redistribution plan to finance upgrades to water treatment plants and drinking water systems for cities.

On Monday, House Republicans announced a plan to redistribute gambling taxes to water quality projects.

“With the budget constraints that we have, I feel we’ve laid out a proposal here that grows at a steady pace,” says Representative Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford who leads the House Appropriations Committee.

In the first year, about $9 million would be spent to improve the quality of water in Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams under the GOP plan. Ultimately, about $46 million would be spent annually on water quality if the GOP plan becomes law. Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says Republicans are taking “baby steps” that don’t really address the dilemma.

“I think this is a good start,” Running-Marquardt says. “Our problem is only going to grow.”

Governor Branstad’s plan to divert some state sales taxes from school infrastructure to water quality instead failed to gain enough support in the legislature. Last week Branstad said he’d back the House GOP initiatives as a short term step, but he plans to push legislators to embrace his idea next year as a long-term fix.