October 25, 2010

A Vote for the Creation of a Trust Fund-Not a Vote for a Tax Increase

Written by guest author, Marian Gelb, Executive Director,  Iowa Environmental Council

Iowa voters will have a historic opportunity on November 2, 2010, to vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy constitutional amendment. Protecting Iowa’s water and soil is at the heart of this amendment. Specifically, the amendment will create the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which will provide a permanent, reliable and accountable revenue source to improve water quality and natural areas in Iowa. Funding will include fish and wildlife habitat and parks, trails, in addition to aiding in conservation of agricultural soils and restoring wetlands to protect against future flooding.

Recent data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows that 53% of Iowa’s water sources rate “poor,” and Iowa currently loses an average of five tons of soil per acre each year due to erosion. Over 500 of Iowa’s waters have been deemed “impaired.” Funding to protect our natural resources remains at near historic lows. As of today, Iowa ranks 47th out of 50 states in funding for conservation, despite the fact that more than 27,000 Iowa jobs are supported by outdoor recreation.  Nobody will dispute the fact that Iowa’s distinct character and our quality of life are directly tied to our state’s natural resources. Iowa’s parks and lakes receive more than 25 million visits each year, and our fertile soil provides the backbone to our economy.   

The stakes for Iowa’s natural resources on November 2 are incredibly high. We must act now. By passing this amendment in November, we can prevent the permanent loss of soil, water and wildlife and retain Iowa’s quality of life and natural beauty so our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can enjoy the state the same way we do.  The good news is, by cleaning up our water supply and conserving Iowa’s soils, we have the opportunity to actually leave the state to future generations better than we found it.

A vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Amendment is a vote for the creation of the Trust Fund – not a vote for a tax increase. Revenue for the Trust Fund will come from allocating 3/8ths of one cent from sales tax revenue the next time the Iowa legislature raises the state sales tax. This funding recommendation was based on over three years of research and study conducted by a legislative advisory committee. The advisory committee concluded that those funds, in addition to annual state budget allocations, would meet current needs. Once created, the Trust Fund will be managed responsibly, including open, public competition for funding, mandatory audits and citizen committee oversight. 

The time is now to start investing in Iowa’s natural resources.  We have a proud history of farming, biking along the Heritage Trail, hiking the Loess Hills, fishing on North Bear, and teaching our sons and daughters to appreciate wildlife.  The quality and condition of our natural resources is the responsibility of all Iowans.  Please go to the polls on November 2 and vote YES on Question #1.

For more information on how to get involved: Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, marklanggin@gmail.com; 515-707-0266.  Visit www.IowasWaterAndLandLegacy.org for more information.

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The Board of Water Works Trustees supports the Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

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Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Conservation, Environment, Value of Water, Water Quality

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