Governor Terry Branstad is traveling the state this summer and offering a new twist on his plan to find more state money for water quality initiatives.
“We need long term, reliable funding for that,” Branstad said today.
Branstad has visited a dozen counties to inspect land and water conservation practices this summer and he’ll be in Harrison County this afternoon. Branstad is embracing the plan advanced this spring by House Republicans, but adding onto it. He’s proposing an extension of the one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure that’s set to expire in 2029.
Branstad suggests three-eights of the money raised after 2029 from that one-cent sales tax be spent on water quality and the rest would continue to go to schools.
“What the House did was, I think, very commendable and passed with a strong, bipartisan vote,” Branstad said, “so we want to build off of that and see if we can do that and, hopefully, even more in the future and we want to work with both parties in both houses and certainly we want to work with all the groups that have an interest in protecting the water quality of our state.”
The governor will hold a water quality roundtable discussion in Storm Lake tomorrow morning.
House Republicans proposed diverting water usage fees and some state gambling taxes to water quality projects in cities and on farms. If the House GOP plan were in place today, the state would be spending $9 million on water quality initiatives this year.
“I think what the House passed is a great start,” Branstad says. “I would like to see us go even further and provide a more long-term, reliable source of funding for water quality.”
The Republican governor is criticizing Democrats in the Senate for failing to pass the House plan, but Branstad said he’ll work with whatever party controls the legislature’s debate agenda next year to find common ground on water quality plans.
“Right now most legislators are very actively involved in their own campaigns,” Branstad said, “so we respect and recognize that.”
Branstad will visit farms near Plainfield and Anamosa on Wednesday. On Thursday, he’ll tour spots near Keota and Otley.